The Celtics were getting killed in the first quarter last night against the Sixers in elbow pick-and-rolls. The Pitbulls would get knocked off Jrue Holiday's hip with a free throw line extended pick, Holiday would have a free lane to the rim, and either he'd have a layup or Thaddeus Young would clean up the rebound with the weak side big coming over to help.

That recipe helped the Sixers jump out to an early 6-point lead, but then the Celtics went zone.

The seams shut down, the shot clock dwindled, and the Sixers were forced to take some bad 3's:

Celtics find success turning to zone early on vs. Sixers

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."

Boston's use of a zone defense was one of the keys to the C's having an 8-2 advantage in fast-break points in the first half.

Zone defense is the kissing-your-sister of defenses. When you're playing pick up at the park, no one ever says, "let's play zone." You see it in high school and you see it in college, but it's a rarity, especially in the NBA. Even Garnett has bristled at the idea of playing it:

C's vintage D aided by novel zone