BOSTON - Kevin Garnett palmed the ball in the low post and saw a double team coming. He lifted his head looking to pass.

Something was missing. As he looked around, he saw the white Celtics jerseys of four non-starters.

So the 6-foot-11 forward dropped his right foot toward the rim and kissed one of his vintage knee-raising, one-footed fadeaways off the backboard. Typical KG.

The Celtics' 35-year-old big man, who carried them to the 2008 NBA championship, returned to the form of four years ago, dominating the 76ers on both ends of the court as the Celtics pulled off a come-from-behind 92-91 win in Game 1 of their second-round series with the 76ers.

But unlike in 2008, the rest of Boston's Big Four struggled for much of the game.

Rajon Rondo wasn't a factor until the second half. Neither was the team's captain, Paul Pierce. And sweet-shooting Ray Allen was hampered by a nagging ankle injury that kept him out of the starting lineup.

The Celtics dug themselves a hole early that they couldn't get out of until the third quarter. Even then, they didn't seem in control until the end of the fourth quarter.

For everything that Garnett was, Pierce was not.

The "Truth" never found a rhythm offensively and couldn't contain Andre Iguodala defensively. Pierce succeeded in attacking the basket and drawing fouls early but went away from that part of his game in the second half and wasn't much of a factor late.

The Celtics backcourt of Rondo and young Avery Bradley looked out of place early. Neither could contain Evan Turner, and the duo combined for nine turnovers, seven off the hands of Rondo. He more than made up for it, though, with an impressive fourth quarter that helped propel Boston to the win.

After Spencer Hawes' solid series against the Bulls, the 76ers had reason to believe the 7-foot-1 big man would match up well with Garnett. The "Big Ticket" sent a message loud and clear in game one, though. Not tonight.

Hawes, who took a turns covering KG, gave Garnett too much space on the elbows and got burned on the glass.

Garnett finished with 29 points and 11 rebounds.

Early in the fourth quarter, Garnett stuffed an Iguodala dunk attempt and sent the Celtics on a fast-break. Four-point swing, advantage Celtics.

A few minutes later, Rondo missed a layup off the glass. Garnett grabbed the rebound with one hand and threw down a two-handed dunk in front of Hawes, then gave him a little push on the way down the court as the two chirped at each other.

But on this night, Garnett's message was sent: Even alongside four non-starters, KG can present a mismatch that the Sixers appear ill-suited for.