The Philadelphia 76ers hope to even up their playoff series against the Boston Celtics in Game 2 on Monday night.
The 76ers need to find a way to slow down Celtics guard Rajon Rondo.
The Celtics eked out a win in Game 1, 92-91, when point guard Rajon Rondo was able to dribble out the final 3.4 seconds of the fourth quarter while avoiding 76ers attempting to foul him. The 76ers led for the majority of the game, including by as many as 10 points in the fourth quarter, but Rondo's triple-double and Kevin Garnett's 29 points and 11 rebounds powered the Celtics to the victory.
It was an impressive display of resiliency by the Celtics, but coach Doc Rivers wasn't surprised that his team was able to battle its way back from a double-digit deficit on the way to a win.
"It's funny, when we cut the lead the first time and then they pumped it back up to seven, nine . I didn't feel bad about the game," Rivers told the Associated Press. "I didn't know if we were going to win or lose. I did feel like mentally, our guys were still very much in the game, and, to me, that's a good sign."
For as much as the Celtics have been maligned for being "too old," as an Atlanta Hawks owner said, one of the benefits of an older team is experience in high pressure, late game scenarios. The Celtics are used to delivering results when it matters most, which can't be said for the younger, more inexperienced 76ers.
"We played well, but they're a weathered team, they're a championship team," 76ers forward Elton Brand admitted to reporters. "Most of those guys have been on a championship team, so they know how to execute, they know to finish at the end, which we've done better at, but that's what we have to do against this Boston team."
The 76ers have shown some ability in knocking off the Derrick Rose-less Chicago Bulls, but it will take a much stronger effort to defeat the Celtics. Philadelphia has its hands-full with the speedy Rondo, the rejuvenated Garnett, as well as Boston's two sharpshooters --- Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. The 76ers struggled mightily with Rondo and Garnett, but did do a nice job at limiting Pierce to 14 points on 3-for-11 shooting.
It will be important for Philadelphia to improve its defensive effort if it hopes to steal a game in Boston.
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