By A. Sherrod Blakely
BOSTON Every now and then, the Boston Celtics' Big Three teaches us all a lesson on how when the C's are on their game, they're pretty tough to beat.
Consider Saturday's 97-81 win over the Miami Heat in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semi-final matchup a refresher course.
It was a game in which the Celtics got strong play from just about every player who suited up.
But that strong play was fueled by the play of their starters; specifically the Big Three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.
The trio combined to score 70 points on Saturday compared to just 44 for the Heat's Big Three.
Leading the C's three-man charge was the man who has led the Celtics' 15-man squad - Paul Pierce.
He had 21 points, but scored eight of Boston's first 10 points against the Heat.
In the first, the C's opened with an 18-7 run with all 18 points scored by backups.
"Paul Pierce set the tone, at the beginning of the game," said coach Doc Rivers. "Just the force that he was playing with."
He wasn't the only Celtic playing with force.
Whether it was Chris Bosh or Joel Anthony, Garnett was unstoppable on Saturday.
Rivers was pleased with most of Garnett's shots coming from spots he is most comfortable with.
"That was nice to see," Rivers said.
Garnett being more assertive stemmed from his belief that in order for the Celtics to be successful, he has to at times take upon a greater role offensively.
"I felt like I've been non-existent pretty much offensively in this series," Garnett said. "Tonight was a little more focused on offense versus defense. I thought I did a good job of balancing out, to be honest."
Garnett was especially effective in the third quarter, which is when he scored 14 of his game-high 28 points.
In the third, Garnett wound up playing the entire quarter - something Celtics head coach Doc Rivers rarely does.
With Game 3 being a must-win game and Glen Davis continuing to struggle offensively, Rivers had little choice but to ride the hot hand of Garnett.
"Only place we could go," was how Rivers described his decision to go with a steady diet of Garnett.
It was clear that Garnett was having one of those hot-shooting nights when very little went against him.
"I won't call it a zone," Garnett said. "I've been in a zone and that wasn't it. I had a nice rhythm going. Guys looked for me. I've got to continue to be aggressive. It gives us force and another source for scoring."
And with Allen contributing a solid 15 points which included a couple of huge 3s, the Celtics gave us all a refresher course on why the Celtics' Big Three is still a force to be reckoned with.
"This is a championship team, they (Celtics) play with that championship DNA that they have," said Miami's Dwyane Wade. "We can learn a lot from that effort that they put forward tonight."