BOSTON, Massachusetts – Brandon Bass scored a game-high 27 points as the Boston Celtics defeated Philadelphia 101-85 in crucial game five to take a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference series.
Kevin Garnett scored 20 points, Paul Pierce had 16 and 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.
Game six of the best-of-seven series takes place Wednesday back in Philadelphia, with a seventh game, if necessary, in Beantown on Saturday.
Forward Bass scored 18 of his 27 points in the third for the Celtics who were given the day off 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 MCL is 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 hurt 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.
This rivalry began back in 1949-50 when the 76ers were based in Syracuse.
The 76ers and Celtics have met in the postseason 11 times with Boston winning seven of those.
Thunder close out Lakers, advance to West finals
Oklahoma City plunged the final dagger into the Los Angeles Lakers with a 106-90 rout that sent them to their second consecutive NBA Western Conference finals.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook propelled the rising Thunder while leaving the storied Lakers franchise in a state of uncertainty after completing the 4-1 best-of-seven series win.
Durant and Westbrook combined for 53 points and the home team withstood 42 from Kobe Bryant to set up a West final against the top-seed San Antonio Spurs.
"It's a step in the right direction. The Lakers are an unbelievable organization," Durant told reporters. “It feels good to advance, but we have to keep going."
The Thunder had moved into position to eliminate Los Angeles with fourth-quarter comebacks in Games Two and Four but they dominated late in the clincher to punctuate their triumph.
Oklahoma City trailed 70-66 midway through the third but finished the quarter with a 17-7 run, then rattled off the first 10 points of the fourth, most with Bryant sitting on the bench.
Pau Gasol bounced back from a rough Game Four with 14 points and 16 rebounds, but it was far from enough for the visiting Lakers.
The younger and hungrier Thunder outmuscled Los Angeles in the rebounding battle and dominated in the fast break.
And while LA flopped to a second-round loss for the second year in a row, Oklahoma's players paid tribute to Bryant, who many of them grew up idolizing.
“It means a lot," said Thunder guard James Harden, who had 17 points. "“Kobe's a warrior out there, and it's tough. But we stuck with it." (Agence France-Presse/Reuters)