The Boston Celtics overcame an eight-point fourth quarter deficit; then withstood a late surge by the Philadelphia 76ers Saturday night, to win game one of their Eastern Conference semi-final series 92-91. The Celtics trailed for most of the contest at the “New Garden“; briefly gaining the advantage in the third, only to fall behind again by the end of the period.
With 2:51 remaining in the game Kevin Garnett drove the lane putting the rock through the hole; was fouled on the play, then made his shot at the line giving Boston the upper hand at 86-84. The home team would keep the lead the rest of the night, as the Sixers tried to come back from being down five points in the closing seconds, only to fall a point short.
Garnett led all players as he notched his second straight double-double in the Playoffs including a game high 29 points while Rajon Rondo racked up a triple-double with 13 points, 17 assists, 12 rebounds and 4 steals for the night. Andre Iguodala who was a big part of closing out the Chicago Bulls in the previous match-up for Philadelphia, was the high scorer for his team as he had 19 points while Evan Turner recorded a double-double in the loss with 16 points.
The visitors came out of the gate strong and they would dominate the first 12 minutes of action. Lou Williams hit a short jumper with seven seconds left and the Sixers would be on top 28-18 at the end of the period. Philadelphia would hold an 11 point advantage with 1:16 in the second, however Rondo and Paul Pierce drove the lane for back to back layups, followed by a mid-range jumper by Garnett with four seconds remaining and the Sixers lead had shrunk to 47-42 as the game reached the half.
Boston would hold the edge for a little less than two minutes during the third and would be up as many as four points. Philadelphia grabbed back the lead and would be on top 71-67 as Rondo hit a one foot shot at the buzzer; making it a contest heading into the fourth. Both clubs had their opportunities to capture the game, but it would be the Celtics who ended up with the victory. The two opponents will meet again in Boston for game two of the match-up on Monday.