By John ‘The Dude’ Hardiman, 985TheSportsHub.com
For the second straight year the Boston Celtics will face LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals after eliminating the Philadelphia 76ers with a, 114-112, Game 5 win on Wednesday night at the TD Garden.
The 76ers were able to avoid elimination with their only win of the series on Monday night in Game 4, but their fate was slowly approaching as the Celtics welcomed them back to Boston, where they’re now 7-0 in the 2018 NBA Playoffs.
With Shane Larkin out of the line up after running into a monstrous Joel Embiid screen early in Game 4, the C’s would be looking to a variety of players to handle the ball at times.
After going back and forth throughout the opening minutes, the Celtics were up 10-7 before the Sixers chipped away to take a one-point lead with 4:54 left in the first.
Marcus Smart rips Embiid on defense and finds Tatum in transition for the alley-oop jam! pic.twitter.com/505HqfSulQ— Boston Celtics (@celtics) May 10, 2018
The Celtics eventually took a, 25-24, lead into the second behind 12 combined Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum points (6-7 FG).
Things were all tied up at, 48-48, with under four minutes to play in the second before the Celtics went on a, 13-4, run to close out the second, with at the time, their largest lead of the night at, 61-52.
And of course Terry Rozier III knocks down a buzzer beater before the half with Drew Bledsoe in the house.
Terry beats the halftime buzzer! ???? pic.twitter.com/G0YL8GRmem— Boston Celtics (@celtics) May 10, 2018
Both teams were shooting well from field to finish the first half, with the Sixers shooting 54.8 percent and the Celtics not far behind at 52.3 percent.
Tatum already had 14 of his team-high 25 points on 6-of-7 from the field at this point, before finishing the night with a smooth 53.3 shooting percentage.
After not scoring a single basket in the opening two minutes of the third, the Celtics would eventually turn things around offensively en route to building a 12-point lead with 6:04 remaining in the quarter.
Side Note: By this point, four C’s player already had 11-plus points.
And speaking of 11 points, Brown would go onto finish with 11 just in the third alone.
But the 76ers came charging back with an 11-3 run, to pull within four of the C’s with 2:55 remaining in the third.
And then by the end of the third, the Sixers cut a 12-point deficit to one-pointer, at 83-82, as they’d out-score the C’s, 30-22, in the quarter.
It all boiled down to the fourth quarter for the Sixers as they faced elimination for the second straight game in a row.
The fourth quarter was certainly one for the ages.
It was full of fouls, ties and a key Celtics run.
Just one minute into the fourth, the Sixers would tie things up at, 85-85, as they would eventually regain a two-point lead with just over nine minutes to play, before going up by four shortly after.
The Celtics turned foul trouble and some quick baskets into a 10-0 run, as they’d take a, 100-94, lead with 5:27 to play.
Horford grabs the steal and Rozier finishes on the break! pic.twitter.com/LIwysA50IO— Boston Celtics (@celtics) May 10, 2018
At this point both teams were in the bonus for the duration of the game, with the Celtics getting freebies for the final 10 minutes and the Sixers getting them for the final five minutes of the game.
The Sixers responded to the C’s run, with a 9-0 run of their own, to regain the lead at, 105-102, with three minutes to play.
After the Celtics battled back and the Sixers holding their own, things were tied up once again at, 109-109, with just 1:00 left in the game.
Here’s when things got interesting.
With 37.8 second on the clock, Dario Saric turned the ball over on a strong defensive play by Al Horford, leading to a steal, which ended up turning into a Celtics bucket and the final lead change of the night at, 111-109.
Then in the matter of eight seconds, Embiid missed a pair of baskets after an offensive rebound, before eventually turning the ball over on a great play by the NBA’s top rated defensive player, Aron Baynes.
Rozier then knocked down a pair of free throws to put the Celtics up, 113-109, with 9.8 seconds remaining.
And then of course J.J. Redick knocked down a three to bring the 76ers within one, before Marcus Smart nailed 1-of-2 of his free throws.
Then Smart followed up with a steal on a bad Ben Simmons pass to seal the deal on the Celtics, 114-112, Game 5 win, sending them to the Eastern Conference Championship.
The Celtics finished the night shooting 44.7 percent from the field and 35 percent from three. As for the 76ers, they finished 48.8 percent from the field and 38.1 percent from deep.
Six Celtics finished with at least 13 points, with the rookie sensation in Tatum leading the way.
Brown was right behind him with 24 points (10-13 FG), four rebounds and two assists.
Horford and Baynes were sniffining double-doubles with 15 points and eight rebounds, and 13 points and nine rebounds, respectively.
Rozier finished the night 4-for-15 from the field for 17 points, to go along with six rebounds and two assists.
Smart filled the stat sheet off the bench with 14 points (3-8 FG), six rebounds, six assists and three steals.
Embiid and Saric both finished with a team-leading 27-points. And both posted doubles with, Embiid snagging 12 rebounds and Saric grabbing 10.
Game 1 of Celtics – Cavs will tip-off on Sunday afternoon in Boston at 3:30 p.m., with the C’s holding home-court advantage throughout the final round of Eastern Conference play.
UP NEXT: The #2 Boston Celtics (55-27/0-0) will welcome the #4 Cleveland Cavaliers (50-32/0-0) to the TD Garden on Sunday afternoon for Game 1 of Eastern Conference Finals. Catch the call of the game with Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell, live on 98.5 The Sports Hub. Pre-game coverage begins at 3:00 p.m., with tip-off set for 3:30 p.m.
John Hardiman is a Digital Producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for John? Hit him up on Twitter @HardiDude or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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