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NBA: Boston 110, Atlanta 85

BOSTON, April 30 (UPI) -- Paul Pierce helped Boston pull away with a 13-point first half Wednesday and the Celtics took the playoff series lead with a 110-85 win over Atlanta.

After two unexpected losses in Atlanta, the Celtics seized a 3-2 advantage in the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs and will try to finish off the eighth-seeded Hawks on Friday.

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Atlanta will host Game 6.

Boston built a 15-point halftime cushion and kept the Hawks from making a charge during the final two periods despite Atlanta's constant parade to the free-throw line. The Hawks made 25 of 29 foul shots and Boston went to the line only 15 times.

Pierce finished with 22 points, Kevin Garnett had 20, Ray Allen 19 and Sam Cassell 13. Boston shot 53 percent from the floor and held Atlanta to 40.

The Hawks were led by Joe Johnson with 21.

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