The two main differences between tonight and the first two games of this series:
1) Watching the first two games brought as much joy as repeatedly getting struck in the nose with a hammer. Watching Game 3 was more like going to a really fun water park, at least from the perspective of a Celtics fan.
2) Tonight, the Celtics just wouldn’t stop attacking.
It took them less than two quarters to match their free throw attempt total from Game 2. Paul Pierce dunked on the world’s head twice on successive touches and never stopped rebounding. Kevin Garnett hit a million jumpers, but he also worked his butt off for low post position and got to the hoop when he wanted to. Rajon Rondo refused to pass up any layups. Even Keyon Dooling, Brandon Bass and Ray Allen took turns putting their heads down and getting to the hoop. The Celtics, who for years have been primarily a jump-shooting team, who for two games of this series had been relatively passive, used Game 3 as an opportunity to impose their will.
They outrebounded the Sixers 44-37, earned 28 free throws to Philadelphia’s 22 and outscored the Sixers 61-32 in the middle two quarters. Pierce didn’t stop screaming, Garnett wouldn’t stop cussing and Marquis Daniels wouldn’t stop doing that new celebratory dance they call flexing. Even ahead by 25 points in the fourth quarter, the Celtics kept going strong to the hoop. Until Garnett came out for good with six minutes left in the final frame, the Celtics didn’t take their collective foot off the gas even a little.
The Sixers planned a red-out tonight by giving all their fans a free red t-shirt. They got even more red than they bargained for when the Celtics spilled gallons of Philadelphia’s blood.
This series seems drastically different now than it did 24 hours ago. The Celtics have seized control.