PHILADELPHIA It wasn't supposed to be like this.
The Boston Celtics were hurting at so many positions. The Sixers had home court advantage and apparently some momentum from their Game 2 win, and would feed off their fans.
And you know what all that meant to the Celtics?
The only thing the C's were concerned about was getting a win, something they were able to do in emphatic fashion with a 107-91 victory. The C's now lead the best-of-seven series 2-1 with Game 4 in Philadelphia on Friday and Game 5 back in Boston on Monday.
The 'You Can't Stop Me' Tour featuring Kevin Garnett was rolling along, with Garnett delivering yet another show-stopping performance with 27 points and 13 rebounds. Rajon Rondo had a solid night as well, with 23 points, 14 assists and six rebounds. Ditto for Paul Pierce (24 points, 12 rebounds, four assists).
After taking a double-digit lead into the half, the Celtics were hoping that the third quarter would be better - much better - than it was for them in Games 1 and 2.
In less than five minutes, the Celtics' lead had ballooned to 20 points (71-51) with Garnett leading the charge.
His ability to score both inside the paint and from the perimeter, not to mention his defense, was just too much for the Sixers to handle.
Boston's blowout win was a bit surprising when you consider the game's early moments which saw Philadelphia open the game with a 7-2 run.
Throughout those early possessions, the Celtics were seemingly a step slow in getting free for shots, as well as their defensive rotations.
But the steadying force during those struggles, Garnett, continued to remind us all that there's still good basketball - a lot of good basketball - in those soon-to-be-36 year old bones of his.
However, Garnett soon found himself battling something much tougher than the Sixers defense - foul trouble.
He picked up two in the first quarter, which ended with the Celtics behind 33-28.
Garnett's departure might have been a blessing in the disguise for Boston.
It forced them to run more of their offense through Pierce.
Pierce, still dealing with a sprained medial collateral ligament injury in his left knee, appeared to have found that much-needed bounce with back-to-back emphatic dunks followed by a pair of primal yells for good measure.
His play, along with Rondo's scoring, was instrumental in the Celtics being within striking distance going into the second quarter.
Facing a five-point deficit to start the second, Garnett immediately made up for lost time with the first of many baskets.
It didn't' take long before Garnett was joined by Rondo. And Brandon Bass. And Keyon Dooling. And Mickael Pietrus. And
Yeah, it was becoming that kind of game for the C's, courtesy of their small ball lineup that Celtics coach Doc Rivers normally waits until the fourth quarter to use.
But in the first, the C's had a stretch in which their lineup included Rondo, Ray Allen, Avery Bradley, Paul Pierce and Greg Stiemsma.
The Celtics thrived with a similar small ball unit in the second quarter that included Garnett who was trending towards a double-double (17 points, nine rebounds) by halftime.
Boston pulled ahead by as many as 13 points (56-43) in the second, but soon saw its lead down to just seven after a 3-point play by Lou Williams and a 3-pointer by Andre Iguodala.
The C's had played too well for too long to go into the half without a double digit lead. Boston took a 60-49 lead into the half following a pair of free throws by Rondo and a driving lay-up.
Boston had a chance to make the lead even bigger when Pierce stole the ball and launched a desperation, off-balance shot that was on line with the basket but came up short as time expired.
It didn't matter, though.
Because the half ended with the Celtics ahead comfortably, setting the stage for them to walk off the floor accomplishing the only thing they wanted all along - a victory.