The Boston Celtics (11/8 – NBA Championship outright) have made it through to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010 after claiming a 100-96 victory in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Finals series with the Miami Heat on Sunday.
The pressure was on the Celtics after they missed the chance to wrap up the series in Boston on Friday, but they held their nerve in the Heat’s own backyard, with series MVP Jayson Tatum leading the way with 26 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.
Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart also contributed 24 points apiece for Ime Udoka’s team, who at one stage led by 17 points during the second quarter before Miami, spurred on by a strong home following at the FTX Arena, fought their way back into the contest.
Jimmy Butler had the chance to snatch the lead for Miami late in the fourth quarter, but he missed a three-point attempt and that ultimately proved costly.
Boston went up the other end and made two free throws through Smart to seal the win and their place in the NBA Finals against Western Conference champions the Golden State Warriors (4/7 – NBA Championship outright).
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Speaking after the victory, winning coach Udoka admitted it was typical of his team to claim the victory the hard way.
“This is a typical Celtics win,” the 44-year-old told reporters. “We fought through a lot of adversity this year. We’re a resilient group and tonight seemed to signify our season. We can’t ever seem to shut the door and have to grind it out.”
Boston’s last appearance in the NBA Finals was 12 years ago, but it is not since 2008 that the Celtics last claimed Championship glory.
The 17-time NBA champions will surpass the Los Angeles Lakers and become the most successful team in NBA history if they claim an 18th title this year.
Golden State are going for a fourth Championship in eight years after beating the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals and they will have home-court advantage for game one of the series, which takes place during the early hours of Friday morning (Warriors 4/7, Celtics 7/5 – Money Line).
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