x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

NBA: Rondo the hero as Celtics clinch Miami showdown

Boston claim 85-75 victory over Philadelphia 76ers to secure Monday night clash with Miami Heat

Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce is fouled as he is surrounded by a trio of Philadelphia 76ers
Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce is fouled as he is surrounded by a trio of Philadelphia 76ers

The Boston Celtics secured their ticket to the NBA Eastern Conference finals on Saturday with an 85-75 victory over Philadelphia - thanks to Rajon Rondo.

Rondo claimed 18 points with 10 assists and 10 rebounds as the Celtics won the decisive game seven in the Eastern Conference second-round series.

The Celtics will have little time to relax. They will open the best-of-seven Eastern conference finals in Miami against the star-studded Heat on Monday night. That winner will face San Antonio or Oklahoma City in the NBA Finals.

The Celtics led by three points when Paul Pierce fouled out with 4:16 remaining.

Rondo scored Boston's next nine points as the Celtics stretched their advantage to double-digits.  He then picked up another 11 points in the final quarter and notched his ninth career playoff "triple-double".

As the final seconds counted down, Boston fans began chanting "Beat the Heat!"

It will mark the third straight post-season that the Heat - led by NBA most valuable player LeBron James and Dwyane Wade - and Celtics have met.

Boston won in five games in 2010 in the first round and the Heat won in five last year in the second round.

Brandon Bass scored 16 and Pierce ended with 15 points and nine rebounds for Boston.

Andre Iguodala scored 18 points for Philadelphia, which had eliminated injury-plagued top seed Chicago in the first round.

Iguodala drained a three-pointer from the left corner with just over four minutes remaining to pull Philadelphia within 71-68.

Pierce then fouled out, but Rondo made sure the Sixers couldn't take advantage.

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