|The Celtics' Kevin Garnett stretched as he hauled in a first half rebound. (Jim Davis / Globe Staff)|
Garnett at the top of his game
Vintage effort keys Boston comeback
Kevin Garnetts 29-point output in the Celtics 92-91 win over the Philadelphia 76ers in the opener of their Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series was his highest point total since the 2008 playoffs.
Garnett scored 33 points in the Celtics Game 5 Eastern Conference finals win over Detroit May 28, 2008.
Kevin is playing great, Sixers coach Doug Collins said. I mean, he is playing great. Hes hitting all these shots. Hes fading shots off the glass. I mean, hes playing as well as Ive ever seen him play. My hats off to him. But I dont think there was anything we did poorly with him. I just think sometimes you get trumped.
I mean, I dont know what else we could have done. He made a lot of tough shots.
If Garnett seems to be in a zen-like zone, thats because he probably is.
I didnt know what we were down, I didnt look at the score, Garnett said of the 47-42 halftime deficit. No disrespect for the game or anything like that. I go off the crowd, I go off the emotion, I go off the adrenaline. Other than that, for the most part I like the feel of the game.
I really feel like we have better basketball in us and Im sure as the series goes on well have no other choice but to get better.
I have no life at this point. I go home, I get treatment, come back in here, study tape, film - no life at all - this is what it is.
Garnett totaled 38 minutes, 11 seconds of playing time, going the entire 12 minutes of the final quarter.
Whatevers asked of me, Im going to do, Garnett said. Im not really paying attention to minutes - Im playing as hard as a I can. If I need a break I tell [coach Doc Rivers]. We have TV timeouts, which are longer timeouts, free throws, and things of that such.
Running in place
Rivers told his team before game 1 that the Sixers are Atlanta on steroids.
The biggest difference is Atlanta wanted to run, but they also believed if they got in half-court, they had Joe Johnson, they had guys, Rivers said. Philly is more, theyre going to force it down your throat. Listen, if its a track meet its not going to be good for us.
But Rivers said after the game he wanted the Celtics to play a running game.
I told our guys that over and over again, Rivers said. On the board, the first thing I wrote, before we went out, We want to run. We dont want them to run. We want to run every time.
We feel if we can rebound, we can get out in the break, we feel we can get Kevin deep in the post early. So, its the pace wed like, except for we didnt like their pace. We need to get easy baskets. Its important for us and, really, its important for [Rajon] Rondo. Because, when you get in that slow-down half-court, then they can kind of help off of him. When were running, its tough for them to do that.
Rondo is in control
Rondo completed his eighth career playoff triple-double.
I thought Swag [Rondo] was aggressive, man, Garnett said. I thought, second half, he did a better job looking for his shot. Fourth quarter, his shot sort of sealed the game. He has a lot of confidence. Hes been really, really working on his game. I thought he did a good job balancing it out - trying to get Paul [Pierce] going, trying to get myself going, things of that sort, still finding places to be aggressive. Tough job but if anybody can to it he can.
Playing through pain
Ray Allen, who missed the final 11 regular-season games with bone chips in his right ankle, recovered enough to participate in pregame workouts as he totaled 12 points in 32:44 minutes.
Im ready to go, Allen said before the game. I think, just over the course of the day, I feel a little better. I just go through whole process of getting ready to play a game. When I shot before the game thats my barometer.
Two Hawks fined
The NBA fined Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. $35,000 for publicly criticizing NBA officiating and making negative comments about Garnett. The NBA also fined Hawks rookie Ivan Johnson $25,000 for directing an obscene gesture toward Boston fans.
Gearon was quoted Wednesday by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as calling Garnett the dirtiest guy in the league. Gearon also criticized officiating in the first-round series, won by the Celtics in six games.
Frank DellApa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.