Rondo, Garnett rally Celtics past Sixers in series-opener
Boston, MA, United States (AHN Sports) – Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett filled up the stats sheets to help rally the Boston Celtics past the Philadelphia 76ers, 92-91, Saturday in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series at TD Garden.
The Celtics took the opener of their renewed playoff rivalry with the Sixers, leaning on Rondo’s court wizardry and Garnett’s vintage form.
Rondo chalked up 13 points, 12 boards and 17 dimes to record his second triple-double of the postseason, while Garnett racked up another monster game with 29 points and 11 boards. Paul Pierce also chipped in with 14 points on 3-for-11 shooting and Ray Allen tallied 12 points.
The Celtics trailed the Sixers by 13 points in the early going but stayed resilient throughout and eventually snatched the victory with clutch plays down the stretch.
After knocking down two clutch free-throws in the Sixers’ series clincher against the Bulls in Game 6, Andre Iguodala continued to provide solid minutes in netting a team-high 19 points with six dimes and six boards.
Evan Turner (16 points and 10 boards), Spencer Hawes (15 points and 8 boards), and Lavoy Allen (12 points and 5 boards) delivered solid contributions but the Sixers’ inexperience cost them the win against a very seasoned Celtics squad.
The Sixers opened the final quarter strong with six unanswered points to build a 10-point lead, 77-67 advantage. However, the Celtics remained poised and their stingy defense brought them back within striking distance.
Rondo drained a jump shot to give the Celtics a 92-87 cushion with 56.3 second left to play. Iguodala hit a jumper and Jrue Holiday made two free-throws to pull the Sixers within a single point, 92-91, with 3.4 seconds remaining.
However, Celtics head coach Doc Rivers orchestrated a perfect inbound play that allowed a fast-running Rondo to easily get the ball and run out the clock.
The Celtics shot only .439 percent from the field but made 18 of their 19 free-throw attempts. They also dished out 28 assists and grabbed four more rebounds than the Sixers.
The Celtics look to build a commanding 2-0 series edge when they play the Sixers again in Monday’s Game 2, 7 pm ET, at TD Garden.