Celtics Vs. 76ers: Rajon Rondo, Boston Cruise Past Philadelphia, 99-82

Rajon Rondo had 16 points and 13 assists as the Boston Celtics beat the Philadelphia 76ers, 99-82, in a possible first round playoff preview on Tuesday night. Paul Pierce added 18 points for Boston. Read more at SB Nation Philly, as well as CelticsBlog and Liberty Ballers.

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Celtics 99, 76ers 82: Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce Lead Boston Over Philly

For three quarters on Tuesday night, the Boston Celtics played like the team that made it to the NBA Finals just one year ago.

Rajon Rondo finished with 16 points and 13 assists as the Boston Celtics torched the Philadelphia 76ers, 99-82, in a potential first round playoff series on Tuesday night at TD Garden.

Boston (54-23) trailed by two, 26-24, after one quarter but outscored the Sixers, 30-24, in the second quarter. The Celtics scored 45 points in the second half while holding Philadelphia to 32 point in the final 24 minutes.

The win moved the Celtics into a tie for second place in the Eastern Conference with the Miami Heat. Despite the improvement, both Boston and Miami sit three games behind the Chicago Bulls in the conference.

Paul Pierce scored 18 points to lead the Celtics, who shot 52.6 percent in victory. Kevin Garnett had 14 points and three rebounds and Ray Allen added 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting for Boston.

Evan Turner did the bulk of the scoring for Philadelphia (40-38), scoring a game-high 21 points. Elton Brand had 12 points and five rebounds, Jrue Holiday scored 11 and both Andre Iguodala and Jodie Meeks scored 10 for Philly.

Boston returns to action on Thursday when it faces conference leader Chicago at the United Center on Thursday night at 8:00 p.m. EDT.

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Celtics vs. 76ers: Healing Boston Hosts Philly In Potential Playoff Preview

If the season ended today, the Celtics would see the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, which makes Tuesday night's matchup between old rivals Boston and Philly that much more interesting.

The C's meet the visiting Sixers at 7:30 p.m. EDT, on Comcast Sports Net New England, looking to win their second straight while also keeping pace with the Miami Heat, who sit a half game ahead of Boston for second place in the East. Miami is off until Wednesday, meaning a Celts win would even the two teams up in the race for the second seed while cutting into the first-place Chicago Bulls three-game lead for first place overall.

The Celts (53-23) beat the Detroit Pistons 101-90 on Sunday, getting a big game out of their front line, led by Kevin Garnett's 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting and eight rebounds. Despite losing Shaquille O'Neal to yet another injury just six minutes into his return from an Achilles problem that kept him sidelined for over two months, the C's owned the post against the Pistons and will be getting some reinforcements in that area on Tuesday with both Nenad Krstic and Troy Murphy expected to return after brief absences.

Tuesday will mark the fourth meeting of the season between the Celts and Sixers, the previous three decided by a total of eight points. The C's won two of those three games, but the most recent one, on March 11, in Philly, was taken by the Sixers, 89-86. The Celtics have won 12 of the last 15 times these two teams have met.

Philly (40-37) will be without top reserve guard Louis Williams, who left Saturday's loss to the Milwaukee Bucks with a right hamstring strain. That loss spoiled what would have been a season-high, four-game winning streak for the Sixers, who are a game and a half ahead of the Knicks for sixth place in the East.

Tuesday night's game starts a stretch of games that should provide a glimpse of playoff-style atmosphere for the Celts. In addition to being on course to meet the Sixers again come next weekend's first round, Boston will face the Bulls on Thursday in Chicago and the Heat on Sunday in Miami with a home date against the Washington Wizards sandwiched in on Friday night.

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