The Boston Celtics decided to send a little message out to all those watching on Saturday night during their Game 3 matchup in the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Miami Heat: don’t ever bet against the old guys.
Kevin Garnett scored 28 points with 18 rebounds, Paul Pierce added 27, 12 in the first quarter, and Rajon Rondo gamely battled despite a dislocated left elbow to give the Celtics a 97-81 victory over the Heat, and now trail the series 2-1.
Garnett, who contributed more in Game 3 than he had in the first two games combined, was a beast on the inside, controlling the boards and setting the tempo for the Celtics all night long.
The third quarter was vintage Garnett. With the Heat grabbing a 46-44 lead at the half, Garnett went to work, pouring in 14 points and five rebounds in the third, helping the C’s to put the game away.
“He was terrific,’’ Celtics coach Doc Rivers told Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe. “Like I said before the game, in Game 2 he had 20 shots, but they weren’t the shots we wanted. Tonight he had 20 shots and they were the right shots. His jump shots were from the elbow, and not too far out. His corner shots were in the right spot. And when he got in the middle of the lane he turned in, instead of away.’’
Heat coach Eric Spoelstra compared Garnett’s performance to that of an NBA legend back in 1985: Kareem Abdul Jabaar. Jabaar scored 30 points with 17 rebounds in the game following the Memorial Day Massacre, on his way to picking up the NBA Finals MVP award.
The Celtics will need Garnett to continue playing like the Garnett of old, especially with Rondo basically playing with one arm the rest of the way.
Don’t even think about Rondo not playing. He will hear nothing of the sort.
“We’ll show up Monday night. Don’t ask me how I feel. I’m going to play, regardless. I’m not going to use that as an excuse. We’re a no-excuse team,” Rondo said.
Watch out, Boston, Game 4 on Monday night promises to be must-see TV.
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