Brandon Bass scored a game-high 27 points as the Boston Celtics defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 101-85 in a crucial Game 5 to take a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference series.
Kevin Garnett scored 20 points, Paul Pierce had 16, while Rajon Rondo finished with 13 points and 14 assists for the Celtics, who outscored the Sixers 28-16 in the third quarter of Monday’s game.
“When you have a point guard like Rondo, the ball has a way of finding you,” Bass said. “I was able to knock them down.”
Game 6 of the best-of-seven series takes place today back in Philadelphia, with a seventh game, if necessary, in Beantown on Saturday.
Forward Bass scored 18 of his 27 points in the third quarter for the Celtics, who were given the day off on Sunday by coach Doc Rivers so several of their banged up veterans could heal their wounds.
The 34-year-old Pierce has been dealing with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee, while Ray Allen, 36, is playing with bone spurs in his right ankle. Garnett turned 36 on Saturday. Allen had just five points on Monday.
To make matters worse, guard Avery Bradley is playing with a left shoulder that needs surgery. It has popped out of the socket at least four times this season.
With so many stars playing injured the Celtics needed some help from an unlikely source and Bass provided the answer on Monday.
Sparked by Bass, Boston turned a six-point deficit into a six-point lead in the first half of the third.
Elton Brand led Philadelphia with 19 points and Lavoy Allen came off the bench to score a dozen. Brand had just seven points in the second half.
The rivalry began back in 1949-1950 when the 76ers were based in Syracuse. The 76ers and Celtics have met in the post-season 11 times, with Boston winning seven of those.