The Blazers did their best to be agitators. The Celtics turned the ball over 21 times and Portland wiped the glass clean (49 rebounds,19 on the offensive glass).
Joel Przybilla poured it on thick, setting hard, borderline screens including one that dropped Rajon Rondo in the third quarter. Rondo took a few spills throughout the game, but was prepared for a rough night.
"Protect yourself and don’t react really," he said. "It’s no big deal. I guess that’s the only way they thought they could win the game, but obviously that didn’t work. I look at it like we just focused. I tried to tell the guys, don’t get caught up in all that. We’ve got a bigger goal. We’ve just got to come in here, take care of business and get out. That’s it."
After Rondo collapsed to the floor, Celtics center Kendrick Perkins decided he had seen enough, getting nose-to-nose with Przybilla.
"I just thought he was playing a little too dirty the whole game," Perkins said. "So I just told him to chill out with that. I wasn’t nothing. I was just telling him to chill out."
After letting the Blazers play at a frenzied pace in the first half, the Celtics settled down in the third quarter. Slowing things down by running literally repeating the same set the entire quarter.
"Put Kevin at the elbow," Rondo said.
Garnett had six assists in the quarter, feeding Ray Allen for two 3-pointers and a lay-up as the Celtics built their lead up to double digits. From there, the Blazers never got in striking distance again.
"First of all, we stopped turning the ball over," Rivers said. "That helped. But you know what I thought we did a great job of in the second half: we ran our stuff. We worked a set – there were times two seconds, three seconds [let on the clock] – and that slows the game down. We told them at halftime. Just run your offense, run it until you get the shot you want. That will slow the pace of the game down and that will be good for us."
Portland's agenda was to punch first. The Celtics didn't like the idea of being pushed around by Przybilla or anyone else.
"Przybilla’s far from a bully," Garnett said. "We wasn’t going to let anybody beat anybody up out there. We have each other’s back out there, but Doc told us before the game to keep your poise. We read the stuff in the paper. Whatever they were trying to be, you can’t just be tough one day and then go back to being what you are."