NBA Playoffs 2011: Boston Celtics Regain Championship Swagger in Game 3

Laura WolpertContributor IApril 23, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 22:  Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics reacts against the New York Knicks in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 22, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

After barely squeaking out two wins at home against the New York Knicks, it appears that the proverbial switch was flipped for the Boston Celtics prior to the matchup's Game 3 debut in Madison Square Garden. 

The Celtics entered the first round of the 2011playoffs surrounded by questions and doubt.

While they were the higher seed, their matchup with the new-look Knicks left the media and fans alike wondering if the Big Three and company would make it out of the first round with anything left in the tankif they made it out at all.

Then the C’s opened Game 3 with a nine to zero run and soon led 22-5. 

Rondo pushed the pace and found the open man, the bigs set the screens, Pierce and Allen drilled the shots and the Boston faithful breathed a collective sigh of relief. 

With his sixth playoff triple-double of his career, Rajon Rondo finished Game 3 with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and a playoff record 20 assists.  Most of those assists came when he found Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, who went a combined 25-of-37 for 70 points. 

Going 8-of-11 from beyond the arc, Allen continued to extend his hold on the all-time three-point record. 

This game was just as much about the Celtics' win as it was the Knicks' loss. 

With Chauncey Billups sidelined for the second game in a row, and Amar'e Stoudemire playing through back spasms, the brunt of the production fell on the shoulders of Carmelo Anthony, who continues to fall short when his team needs him the most. 

But even if the Knicks had their All-Star core firing on all cylinders, the Game 3 Celtics would have been tough to beat. 

It appears the Boston Celtics have found their championship swagger once again. 

And when they move on to the next round, they will need it more than ever. They appear on track to meet the Miami Heat head on in the second round and will need every ounce of fire power to continue the run to Banner 18.