They started as a Big Three and grew to a Big Four when Rajon Rondo earned the right to be mentioned along with the other Boston Celtics All-Stars.
At no point, however, did Brandon Bass merit marquee billing in his first season inBoston.
The fifth, newest and least-heralded member of the Celtics’ starting lineup, Bass erupted for a career playoff-high 27 points on Monday night, scoring 18 in the third quarter as Boston pulled away from the Philadelphia 76ers to win 101-85 and take a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
“We’ve got a few good players on the team that they had to focus on,” said Bass, who left the game to a standing ovation with 2 minutes left andBostonleading by 18. “That left me open, and I was able to take advantage of my opportunity.”
The 27 points matched Bass’ regular-season career high, and the 18 points in the third was one off his career playoff high for an entire game. It was also more than the Sixers scored in the quarter as a team.
“It was one of those games we needed something to ignite us together,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “I thought the biggest difference was his energy. He played with a force. I thought he just let himself go.”
Kevin Garnett added 20 points and Rajon Rondo had 13 points and 14 assists for the Celtics, who can advance to the East finals with a victory inPhiladelphiain Game 6 on Wednesday. The Sixers would need a win at home to force the series back toBostonfor a decisive seventh game.
As he walked to his postgame interview, Elton Brand told the Celtics’ ball boys in the hallway outside the locker rooms: “See you on Saturday.”
No team has won consecutive games yet this series.