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The Sixers led by six points early in the third quarter before Boston scored 14 of the next 16. The Celtics closed the third with a 10-2 run over the final 3 minutes, and outscored the Sixers 28-16 in the frame. The Celtics also scored 16 of the first 22 in the fourth quarter to put it away.

“Once we were able to run and get some easy baskets, just open it up,” Boston’s Paul Pierce said, “we fed off the crowd and never looked back.”

The Celtics did not practice Tuesday.

Pierce had 16 points, and was a perfect 9 for 9 from the free throw line. Brandon Bass scored 18 in the third as part of a career playoff-high 27. And Kevin Garnett added 20 points, while Rajon Rondo had 13 points and 14 assists for the Celtics.

“Now, when they say, `The Big Three,’ we all know they mean Rondo,” 76ers swingman Andre Iguodala said.

Rondo, in fact, has been a thorn in the Sixers all series. He’s been the leader coach Doc Rivers wanted, often barking at his teammates and demanding they get into the right spots. He finds players in the right position where they don’t have to do much after they catch the ball: Shoot or dunk.

“I thought the second half was one of the best games he’s had this year for us,” Rivers said. “I thought it was more than just the basketball part of it. I thought his will, his leadership, we needed it. And he gave it to us.”