Celtics move on to Cavs with win over 76ers
BOSTON (AP) — Jayson Tatum caught a pass underneath the basket, shook off a hit and went up for the go-ahead layup with 23 seconds left and the Boston Celtics beat the Philadelphia 76ers 114-112 on Wednesday night to advance to the Eastern Conference finals.
Tatum scored 25 points, Jaylen Brown had 24 and Terry Rozier 17, sinking a pair of free throws after forcing Joel Embiid’s turnover in the final seconds. Al Horford added 15 points and eight rebounds for Boston, which will play Cleveland for the second straight year for a spot in the NBA finals.
Game 1 is Sunday in Boston.
Embiid had 27 points and 12 rebounds for the 76ers, who won 20 out of 21 games before Boston beat them three straight times to open the East semifinals. Dario Saric had 27 points and 10 rebounds, and Ben Simmons added 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists.
Embiid had a chance to tie it after Tatum made it 111-109 with 18.8 seconds left. But he missed a heavily contested layup, failed to tip it back in and then grabbed that rebound, too. Rozier knocked the ball out of his hands, off his leg and out of bounds with 10.8 seconds left.
Rozier made a pair of free throws to make it 113-109 — 8 straight points for Boston. J.J. Reddick’s 3-pointer cut the deficit to one.
Marcus Smart missed his first free-throw attempt and appeared to try to miss the second, too — to force the Sixers to bring the ball up the court with the clock running — but the ball went in. Philadelphia’s full-court inbounds pass was intercepted by Smart, and he threw the ball in the air to run out the clock.
The Celtics and Cavaliers will meet in the Eastern Conference finals for the second straight year, but both teams have undergone near-complete overhauls since the Cavaliers eliminated Boston in five games last year. Only four players on each side remain from that series.
The Celtics scored the last 8 points of the first half, including 3-pointers by Baynes and one by Rozier at the buzzer, to open a 61-52 lead. Philadelphia closed the third quarter on a 21-5 run to make it a 1-point game.