In preparing to face the Boston Celtics, teams are getting used to the idea of seeing a little bit of zone defense.

But on Tuesday, the C's literally zoned in on using a zone for much longer stretches than usual.

"Two games in a row we had good zone defense," said C's guard Avery Bradley. "We just have to keep building, continue to keep talking."

And the timing could not have been any better, because the C's man-to-man struggled on Tuesday while the zone defense seemed to leave the Sixers stupefied for enough long stretches for Boston to escape with a 109-101 win.

Philadelphia jumped out to a 17-11 lead which is what prompted C's coach Doc Rivers to dig into his grab bag of defensive tricks earlier than usual and play some zone.

Most games he goes to it for a possession or two here and there. But that approach was out the window quickly.

"We had no game plan to go zone that much," Rivers said. "But what we do is, if the zone works and we score, then we stay in zone; if we miss we go back to man. But we made a lot of shots, so it allowed us to stay in zone a lot."

Sixers coach Doug Collins points to the Celtics' use of the zone defense in the second quarter as being one of the game's turning points.

"They went to a smaller lineup," Collins said. "They went to a zone, and they really tried to run out of their zone, and I thought that they hurt us with that early."