BOSTON - On a day celebrated for Jesus Christ rising from the dead, the Philadelphia 76ers didn't exactly rise to life themselves. The recently reeling Sixers wasted little time getting behind, falling into a 19-point hole in the first half and couldn't recover as the Boston Celtics picked apart Philadelphia, 103-79, on Easter Sunday inside TD Garden.
"Last two games, really, I the defense has been just great intensity," said Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. "I thought we had active hands. You know, I thought the second unit in the second quarter was as good as you can get, not only defensively but our rebounding from the guard spot, Sasha (Pavlovic), all of them."
Kevin Garnett led the charge with 20 points and six rebounds for Boston (32-24), which shot 58.8 percent. Brandon Bass and Paul Pierce also had big nights, scoring 18 and 17 respectively. Rajon Rondo extended his streak of games with double-digit assists to 17, finishing with 15 dimes and seven points. Ray Allen scored 10 off the bench.
Both teams opened the game 3-of-3 from the floor and Philly pulled ahead 7-4 by the 10 minute mark. Boston wouldn't lead until 8:30, when Rondo's layup put the Celts on top, 10-9. Allen checked in at 5:22 of the first with the game tied at 12, as Avery Bradley (18 points) started, but was scoreless after one period, at which point Boston led, 25-22.
A solid defensive effort in the second quarter helped the Celtics build their lead up to 19 during the frame before finishing with a 50-36 advantage at halftime. Garnett scored 12 and Pierce had 11 points in the opening half for Boston, which shot 58 percent. Philadelphia, meanwhile, fell to 38 percent shooting after shooting 53 percent in the first.
"It was very important for the bench to come in and bring their intensity," said Bradley, whose team held the Sixers to 14 second-quarter points."That's something that Doc always, you know -- we take pride in as a team. So we wanted to come in and we wanted to bring our intensity and play hard on the defensive end, that's what we did in the second quarter."
The second half didn't offer any relief for Philadelphia, as Boston stretched its lead to as many as 28 points (79-51 at 3:22) and carried the momentum into the fourth, outscoring the Sixers by three points (19-16) to capture their second straight win.
"It's a good win for us," said Rondo. "We got to get some rest in the fourth quarter."
Nikola Vucevic led the charge for the Sixers, scoring 14 as Philadelphia (29-27) shot 38.2 percent. With the win, Boston moves three games ahead of Philly atop the Atlantic Division.
Boston won't have much time to bask in the victory, though, considering that it faces the dangerous Miami Heat on Tuesday night in South Beach. However, the Celtics did blow out the Heat, 91-72, in their last meeting on April 1, giving them hope for a repeat performance.