PHILADELPHIA Throughout the season, NBA coaches and players alike scoff at the notion that there's such a thing as a statement game.
Well, Boston's 107-91 win over Philadelphia on Wednesday night?
That was a statement game.
Even Rajon Rondo said as much following the C's victory that gave them a 2-1 series lead, with Game 4 on Friday.
"I believed that we needed this game," Rondo said. "Our team responded well. We were al pretty focused today at shoot-around. We had two close games at home and we wanted to show these guys and send a message I think we did a pretty good job of that."
Philadelphia head coach Doug Collins could see early on that the Celtics, more than anything else, simply wanted Game 3 more than his team.
"We ran into a Celtic team that had a real sense of purpose about them," Collins said. "I just thought this was a team that you could see coming in, did not want to be down 2-1 playing Game 4. You could just see they came in and they had been in a lot of these kind of games that they know how important the swing game is to get that home court back, and they played great."
The genesis of Wednesday's pummeling by Boston began well before the C's arrived at the Wells Fargo Center.
There was plenty of disappointment all around following the Game 2 loss, but once again it was the words of Kevin Garnett that seemed to resonate with his teammates.
"After the game, I just came in and said we're not going to beat anybody - and that includes jayvee teams and high school teams - if we don't play together. We worked so hard to get to where we at, to get there together," Garnett recalled. "Ubuntu; we've been preaching that since I been here. I had to just remind the guys, including the younger guys and the new guys, of how we succeed here. And the creed, Celtic basketball and what we are here."
It worked, as the C's put together their most collective win of this series and potentially, of the playoffs.
Now comes the fun part - doing it again.
Boston has home court advantage back with Wednesday's win. But a victory on Friday would put the Sixers about as far back on their heels as you can be, setting the C's up to need just one more victory to move on to the next round of the playoffs.
"It has to be a supreme effort from a defensive standpoint," Garnett said. "When you beat a team like this at home, you have to expect them coming out with a lot of energy. But we'll be ready and we'll be having a lot of energy ourselves."