Three things we learned Saturday night at TD Garden:
Fourth quarter defense
Philadelphia was set on stopping the Celtics and scoring in transition. But in the fourth quarter, the tables were turned. The Celtics were the team playing suffocating defense on Philadelphia, and turning those stops into baskets. The C’s scored six fast break points in the fourth, while Philly failed to score any. Trailing by four to enter the fourth quarter, the Celtics did just enough, and beat the 76ers, 92-91. They take a 1-0 series lead into Monday night’s Game 2.
KG once again
It was Kevin Garnett at the start, it was Kevin Garnett throughout, and it was Kevin Garnett down the stretch. As has seemed to be the case this postseason, the Celtics will go as far as Garnett will take them. Who would have thought? It’s not a shock that KG is stepping up in what could be the last postseason run of his career, but it is somewhat of a surprise to see him ripping through opponents on a nightly basis. Garnett was the only consistent player on the C’s Saturday night, finishing with 29 points on 12-20 shooting and 11 rebounds. Those totals are well above his regular season averages against the Sixers.
The Sixers won’t blow you away with superstars, but they are deep – especially so at the guard position. Philly’s Evan Turner was a problem all game for Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley, and it remains to be seen how the team will deal with him. He finished with 16 and 10. But it doesn’t end with Turner. Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams are scoring threats as well, and their up-tempo style of play has the C’s on their heels at times. Boston’s guards had a game to forget. Bradley missed open looks but was aggressive in taking it to the rim, and Rondo once again looked lackadaisical out there for stretches. Bradley ended up with 8 points and 4 rebounds, while Rondo finished with maybe his worst triple-double to date, 13 points, 12 rebounds, and 17 assists.