BOSTON — The Boston Celtics can cancel their flights to Philadelphia.
The C’s trailed the 76ers by four with less than a minute to play in Game 5 on Wednesday night at TD Garden, but once again, Boston made all the right plays down the stretch, closing out the Sixers to claim a 114-112 win.
Boston held a double-digit lead early in the third quarter but saw it evaporate in the fourth quarter thanks to strong play from Joel Embiid (27 points) and Dario Saric (27 points).
And just when it looked like the Celtics would be headed back to The City of Brotherly Love, Marcus Smart tied the game with a tip-in and fed Jayson Tatum for the go-ahead layup with 20 seconds left.
Tatum (25 points), Jaylen Brown (24 points), Terry Rozier (17 points), Al Horford (15 points), Smart (14 points) and Aron Baynes (13 points) all scored in double digits for Boston.
The Celtics win the series 4-1.
Here’s how Game 5 went down:
PG: Terry Rozier
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Al Horford
C: Aron Baynes
WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU?
Brad Stevens inserted Brown into the starting lineup for Marcus Smart and it immediately paid off. Brown went 3-for-3 with six points and a block in the first three minutes of the game, helping Boston get out to an early 8-6 lead. The 76ers answered quickly, though, going on a 10-7 run, thanks to a strong start from Ben Simmons, to take a three-point lead with four minutes remaining in the opening frame.
The two teams exchanged blows for the remainder of the period with the C’s taking a 25-24 lead into the second quarter. T.J. McConnell led all scorers with seven points, while Tatum and Brown each tallied six to pace Boston.
BACK AND FORTH
The 76ers took the lead to on a Marco Belinelli three-point play to open the second quarter, and the teams traded baskets for much of the stanza with neither squad garnering an edge more than four.
Philadelphia found itself in foul trouble early in the frame, which helped the Celtics stay close until a late flurry gave Boston its biggest edge.
With 56 seconds to play, Horford found Baynes in the corner for a 3-pointer to give the Celtics a 56-52 lead. After Embiid missed a fadeaway jump shot, Tatum grabbed the rebound and sprinted the length of the floor for an easy dunk. Rozier capped the run with a triple at the buzzer, giving the Celtics a 61-52 edge at halftime.
Tatum led all scorers with 14 points at the break. Embiid was the high man for Philly with 12.
TO THE BRINK
Boston was sloppy coming out of the half, but the Sixers weren’t able to take advantage and a Brown triple grew the lead to 10 just minutes into the third.
Philadelphia fought back a touch, cutting the lead to six, but the C’s went on a quick 6-0 run to push it to 75-63 with six minutes left in the third.
The 76ers hung around by living at the free-throw line, and went on a 15-5 run over the final 4:19 of the third to cut the lead to 83-82 heading into the fourth.
Embiid led all scorers with 23 points through three, while Brown paced Boston with 19.
The 76ers took the lead early in the fourth quarter on a Robert Covington triple, but Philadelphia was unable to separate from Boston and the C’s retook the lead at the 6:15 mark on a Baynes layup. A Horford jumper and a Rozier fastbreak bucket followed to swell the Celtics’ lead to 100-94 and force Brett Brown to use a timeout.
Philadelphia fought back, though, going on a 15-7 run to grab a 100-107 lead with 1:08 to play.
With a minute left, Tatum drove down the lane and missed a layup, but Smart grabbed the rebound and put it back to tie the game. After a 76ers turnover, Smart shot a bullet pass to Tatum down low for two, giving the C’s a two-point lead with 18.8 seconds to play.
The Sixers fed the ball to Embiid on the ensuing possession, but he missed the shot and the ball went out of bounds to Boston. The Celtics closed it out at the free-throw line.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT
Does Covington have to retire now?
The Celtics will take the court again Sunday when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final. Tip-off is set for 3:30 p.m. You can view the full conference final schedule here.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images