Big Three carry Celtics in Game 3

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Big Three carry Celtics in Game 3

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

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."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Former Celtics teammates praise Garnett's passion and intensity

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Former Celtics teammates praise Garnett's passion and intensity

WALTHAM, Mass. – Like so many players who have spent part of their NBA journey having Kevin Garnett barking in their ear words of encouragement or just telling them to get the hell out his (bleepin’) way, you can count Avery Bradley among those who will miss the man affectionately known as ‘Big Ticket.’

Garnett recently announced his retirement after 21 NBA seasons, leaving behind a legacy that includes an NBA title won with the Boston Celtics in 2008.

Among the current Celtics, Bradley is the only current member of the team who played with Garnett in Boston.

When Bradley got the news about Garnett’s retirement, he said he sat down and wrote Garnett a letter.

“To let him know how much I appreciate him, how special he is to me,” said Bradley who added that his relationship with Garnett was impactful both on and off the court. “Kevin’s just an amazing person.”

Leon Powe, a member of the Celtics’ championship team in 2008 with Garnett, echoed similar praise about his former teammate.

“As a teammate, as a player, KG meant the world to me,” Powe told CSNNE.com. “Intensity … he brought everything you would want to the game, to the practice field, he was just non-stop energy.”

And when you saw it time after time after time with him, pretty soon it became contagious.

“The intensity just motivated every guy on the team, including me,” Powe said. “It made you want to go out and lay it out on the line for him and the team. You see how passionate he is. You see he’s one of the greats. And when you see one of the greats of the NBA going hard like that all the time, you’re like ‘Man, why can’t I do that? It trickled down to me and every young guy on the team.

Powe added, “He brought that every single day, night, morning, it didn’t matter. He brought that intensity. That’s all you could ask for.”

And Garnett’s impact was about more than changing a franchise’s fortunes in terms of wins and losses.

He also proved to be instrumental in helping re-shape the culture into one in which success was once again defined by winning at the highest levels.

“KG has had as big an impact as anybody I’ve been around in an organization,” said Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations. “The thing that stands out the most to me about KG is his team-first mentality. He never wanted it to be about KG, individual success to trump team success. He lived that in his day-to-day practice. That’s something I’ll remember about him.”