PHILADELPHIA So much for that struggling Boston Celtics offense.
Unlike Games 1 and 2, this one would not come down to the wire.
Not even close.
Boston doubled up the Sixers in the second quarter (32-16), setting the stage for a dominate 107-91 victory.
The Celtics' ability to limit Philadelphia's dribble penetration forced them to play against a set Celtics defense. And that defense was able to rebound the ball and most important, keep the Sixers defense on its heels most of the night.
And it was the C's defense, more than anything else, that contributed to their highest scoring game in the playoffs.
"You need easy baskets in this series," said C's coach Doc Rivers.
Using its defense to generate offense was an important factor in Boston's Game 3 win. Here are some other keys identified earlier, and how those factors actually played out as the Celtics take a 2-1 series lead in their best-of-seven series with Philadelphia.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Brandon Bass came out smoking in Game 2 by making his first three shots, and cooled off considerably afterward. It'll be interesting to see if the C's try to get him going as they did in Game 2, or will they try to establish Kevin Garnett - their best player in this series - offensively in the post early.
WHAT WE SAW: Bass was involved offensively, but not nearly to the extent he was in Game 2 - and the Celtics were a better team for it. Bass finished with 10 points on 5-for-10 shooting which included five rebounds. It was the first game Bass has shot 50 percent from the field or better and scored in double figures, during the playoffs. "It's going to come," Bass said. "Tonight, do the other things. That's what everybody did, and that's what I'll continue to do and hopefully my (shooting) rhythm will come back soon."
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Rajon Rondo vs. Jrue Holiday: Rondo has been better in this series, but the gap isn't nearly as wide as you would expect. Holiday has shown the ability to break down the Celtics defense and get into the lane more than C's head coach Doc Rivers feels comfortable with, clearly. Rondo has to do a better job of keeping him out of the lane so that the bigs behind Rondo, won't have to rotate as much defensively and thus be out of position to rebound.
WHAT WE SAW: Now that's more like it. Holiday had a solid game (15 points, nine assists and six rebounds), but Rondo was without question the superior player. In addition to scoring 23 points, Rondo also had a very Rondo-like night with six rebounds and 14 assists with just one turnover.
PLAYER TO WATCH: With so many superstars in this game, Sixers rookie Lavoy Allen has been the X-factor guy in this series. His defense on Kevin Garnett in itself would be enough. But he's averaging 11 points in this series, held his own on the boards, and he's shown no hesitation in his game - which is what you tend to see with rookies in the playoffs for the first time. "I know my job is to go out, defend, rebound and maybe score a little," Allen told CSNNE.com. "I'm just trying to do what I can to help us win."
WHAT WE SAW: Lavoy Allen, Earth. Earth, meet Lavoy Allen. Allen didn't have a terrible game, but his impact wasn't anything close to what it was in Games 1 and 2. He finished with four points on 2-for-4 shooting.
STAT TO TRACK: Rebounding is one of the more basic statistics available, and it should speak clearly as to who will win tonight. In Game 1, Boston won the battle on the boards and thus, they won the game. In Game 2, the Sixers controlled the action around the glass, and they came away the victory.
WHAT WE SAW: Just like Games 1 and 2, the winner of the boards was the winner of the game. Boston out-rebounded the Sixers 44-37, an unusual large rebounding margin for a Celtic team that's been among among the worst rebounding teams all season. "We ran into a Celtics team that had a real purpose about them," said Sixers coach Doug Collins. "This was a team you could see coming in, did not want to be down 2-1 playing Game 4."