BOSTON (Sporting Alert) — The Philadelphia 76ers took the fight to the Boston Celtics in game one of their Eastern Conference semifinals on Saturday, but were unable to keep the intensity up to the final whistle.
Another impressive Rajon Rondo triple-double stole the moment for the Sixers, which fell 92-91 to the more experienced Celtics, who struggled at times in patches.
With the likes of Paul Pierce and Ray Allen battling to get buckets, Rondo stepped up in a Boston 16-5 run and ended with 13 points, 17 assists and 12 rebounds, his eighth career playoff triple-double and he was well supported by Kevin Garnett, who added 29 points and 11 rebounds in the 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,” said Boston coach Doc Rivers.
“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.”
Rondo added: “I was struggling with my shot early, I was turning the ball over. I decided to do the intangibles and do everything out there on the floor to help my team.
“I came up with some rebounds, came up with some assists and just happened to get a triple-double.”
Andre Iguodala scored 19 points and led four others into double figures, but it wasn’t enough, especially after struggling in the final quarter.
“We didn’t get good looks” in the fourth quarter, Iguodala said. “We were kind of trying to make the home run plays instead of just grinding it out.”
The Sixers will group and are ready to bounce back on Monday night.
“We know we can play with these guys and we know our strengths and what is going to help us win the games,” Iguodala commented.
“We just got to work on our weaknesses and we have to grow from these situations. We have a lot of young guys who play a lot of minutes for us.”