Boston's Big 3 still has plenty of life

Atlanta - Boston's Big Three still has some life in those old bones.

Thirty-somethings Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen led the Celtics to their most recent NBA championship in 2008, and this could be their last hurrah together in Beantown.

If so, they're clearly looking to go out with a bang.

"They have pride," Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford said Monday. "That goes a long way."

The Big Three (plus, let's not forget, Rajon Rondo) have led the Celtics to a 3-1 lead over the Hawks. Game 5 is tonight in Atlanta, with Boston looking to wrap up the series after a 22-point blowout that wasn't really that close.

The Hawks know what they're up against, facing an experienced team with a trio of aging stars who clearly have something to prove.

"They've got guys who've been in wars, who've been in the trenches, who've been in these type of situations more than we have," Atlanta coach Larry Drew said. "When you look at their history over the last few years with Paul and KJ and Ray, and now with the way Rondo has been playing, they've always been a dangerous team to me."

Plenty of skeptics figured Boston was all washed up early in the season, and it's easy to see why. The Celtics approached the midway point at 15-17, closer to missing the playoffs than making any noise in the postseason.

But they were one of the best teams in the league the rest of the way, winning 24 of their last 34 games and carrying that momentum into the playoffs. After three tight games with Atlanta, they took control of the series with a 101-79 rout Sunday night.

The 34-year-old Pierce scored 24 points in less than 19 minutes - not bad, considering he hurt his left knee in the morning shootaround and the Celtics weren't even sure he'd be able to play. He's averaging a series-leading 23.3 points a game.


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