The Celtics took a major step toward a fifth straight Atlantic Division title with a 103-79 cakewalk over the collapsing 76ers on Easter Sunday at TD Garden. Kevin Garnett led the way for the Celtics with 20 while Brandon Bass had 18 and Paul Pierce added 17. The Celtics improved to 32-24 and now have their biggest lead of the season in the division, as they lead by three games with just 10 remaining. Rajon Rondo had 15 assists while Avery Bradley chipped in with 18.
The Sixers entered the game leading the NBA by committing just 10.9 turnovers per game. The Celtics forced the Sixers into 11 in the first half alone. The Celtics were red-hot from the field, shooting 62 percent from the field and finishing up at 59 percent. They held Philadelphia to just 39 percent.
Since the Sixers beat the Celtics in Philadelphia on March 23, the two teams have headed in completely opposite directions. The Sixers have lost four straight and 6-of-8 while the Celtics have won 7-of-9 to turn a game and a half deficit in the Atlantic to a three-game lead with just 10 games left in the regular season. The Sixers (29-27), who led the Atlantic for nearly the entire first three months of the season, fell to eighth in the Eastern Conference, behind the Knicks and lead No. 9 Milwaukee by just one game.
Pierce scored 11 points in the opening quarter and took a 25-22 lead after 12 minutes. The Celtics then went on a 20-4 run to assume command of the game. The Sixers managed to cut the lead to 14 at the half, as Boston led, 50-36.
But the Celtics came out on fire in third quarter, scoring 29 points in the opening nine minutes of the period to take the heart out of the Sixers, who handed the Celtics their worst loss of the season, 103-71, on March 7 in Philadelphia. Rondo, who committed five turnovers in the first half, was a one-man wrecking crew for the Celtics in the third quarter. He had nine of his 15 assists in the period and made one of the more spectacular shots of the season, a turnaround fadeaway on the baseline as the shot clock was expiring to electrify the sellout Easter crowd.
The Sixers managed to cut the Celtics lead down to 16 twice but could get no closer than 88-72 with eight minutes left. Sasha Pavlovic hit a three with 6:50 left to expand the lead back to 19.
The Celtics headed out immediately after the game for Miami, where they play the Heat on Tuesday night. They return home to play the Hawks at TD Garden on Wednesday. For complete coverage from Paul Flannery and Mike Petraglia, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics and the Green Street blog.
We check in for our weekly update from Bill Belichick and get his take on the Pats win over the Texans on the road, the benching of Stevan Ridley, and Antonio Smith's thinly veiled Spygate comments after the Texans lost.
Patriots’ defensive end, Rob Ninkovich, joins Mut and Merloni on a Patriots Monday after the team’s victory in Houston. Rob addresses the postgame comments of Texans’ defensive lineman Antonio Smith and the defense struggling against the run.
Tom Brady joined the show fresh off the teams 9th win of the season in Houston. He dismissed Antonio Smith's spying allegations and told the guys he has already moved on.
Eagle checks in to give Grande and Max a perspective on the Brooklyn Nets after they acquired Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett via trade earlier this summer. He breaks down what he thinks the future holds for the Nets after completing this blockbuster deal.
Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell take some time and look back at the history between the Celtics and the Lakers, specifically the legendary rivalry between Magic and Bird. Legendary broadcaster, Ian Eagle, checks in to give the Brooklyn perspective as KG and Paul Pierce settle into their new home. Sean and Max also reveal the behind the scenes details surrounding Max’s famous “I got the ball” moment.
In the first hour of this edition of the Celtics Summer Cooler, Grande and Max analyze the trade that sent Fab Melo out of Boston. Also in this hour, Max sets the story straight about his history with Larry Bird.
Rob Bradford and Alex Speier talk with Jon Lester about contract negotiations, losing a teammate like Jacoby Ellsbury, the World Series run, and looking ahead to 2014.
Rob Bradford and Alex Speier are back witht he Hot Stove Show. They talk about Jacoby Ellsbury signing with the New York Yankees, the Red Sox signings of AJ Pierzynski and Edward Mujica, and wrap it up with Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester, who talks about the World Series run, losing a teammate like Ellsbury and looking towards 2014.
The Red Sox new catcher, A.J. Pierzynski, joined the show to discuss his reputation as the most hated man in baseball. He also said that he turned down multi-year deals to come and win in Boston.
Shawn Thornton joined the show and discussed the teams long layoff leading into their game tomorrow night in Montreal. He told the guys that he anticipates fighting being a part of hockey for years to come.
Lucic joins Danny Picard to talk some hockey after the team’s overtime win against the Carolina Hurricanes. Danny asks Lucic about David Krejci’s game winner yesterday and hockey outsiders that are trying to change the game.
Shawn Thornton joined the show fresh off his big night at MSG and talked about his recent goal scoring prowess. Shawn said that no matter who his line mates are he is always going to be a fourth liner.
Kirk Minihane answered any and all questions from the listeners and John and Gerry.
The New York Post's Joel Sherman joined the show with his thoughts on jacoby Ellsbury's signing with the Yankees. He said that if it were up to him he would have given the money to Robinson Cano over Ellsbury.
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane. They discussed how Ron Burgundy has officially jumped the shark and played sound of him on Dan Patrick.
Peter King joins Mut and Merloni to go across the NFL and address the latest news. He discusses Kubiak's firing, Tomlin's fine, and Dennard's possible suspension.
Brick makes his weekly appearance on Mut and Merloni and discusses the Bruins loss to Montreal and the hit on Johnny Boychuck.
Michael Fabiano, fantasy expert and Yankees fan, gives his opinion on the Cano signing, discusses Julian Edelman's rising fantasy value, and actually suggests starting Ryan Fitzpatrick
We check in with Herm Edwards on the Pats, Stevan Ridley, and a great many things around the NFL.
We stir up a pot of crap when we debate the world cup and the popularity of soccer... pro callers, con-callers, plus Jack Edwards!
We tackle four topics at 4PM.
Ryder talks with WEEI.com's Chris Price about the Patriots upcoming game with the Cleveland Browns, and Stevan Ridley's status on the team.
Alex joins the show and gives his thoughts on the Jacoby Ellsbury deal, and what prospects the Red Sox have to fill the hole left in the lineup, or trade pieces to get a player who can fill the void.
John talks to Rob and gets his thoughts on the Yankees signing Jacoby Ellsbury, the Red Sox signing AJ Pierzynski, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia signing with Miami.
The Red Sox new catcher, A.J. Pierzynski, joined the show to discuss his reputation as the most hated man in baseball. He also said that he turned down multi-year deals to come and win in Boston.More from this show
Kirk Minihane answered any and all questions from the listeners and John and Gerry.More from this show
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane. Today the guys discussed the first ever dog custody battle in New York City.More from this show