ORLANDO (REUTERS) – Jayson Tatum had 29 points and 12 rebounds, Jaylen Brown scored 21 and the Boston Celtics advanced to the National Basketball Association Eastern Conference Finals with a 92-87 Game 7 win over the Toronto Raptors on Friday (Sept 11).
Marcus Smart added 16 points and Kemba Walker 14 as the Celtics will move on to face the Miami Heat in their third Conference Finals appearance in the last four seasons. Game 1 of the series will take place on Tuesday.
Fred VanVleet had 20 points to lead the Raptors, whose title defence came to an end after coming back from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits in the series. Kyle Lowry had 16 points, and Pascal Siakam scored 13 with 11 rebounds.
Toronto turned the ball over 18 times, six coming in the fourth quarter.
Still, the Raptors were within 89-87 with 1min 21sec remaining.
Siakam got a breakaway with a chance to tie, but Smart blocked him from behind, and Lowry fouled out on the other end with 35.4 seconds to go. Celtics rookie Grant Williams missed both free-throw chances, but Tatum got fouled on the rebound and hit one of his two for a 90-87 lead.
VanVleet missed a potential game-tying three with 12 seconds left, and Walker made his free throws at the other end to seal the game.
With Boston up by one entering the fourth, Walker nailed his first three-pointer of the game on the opening possession. Daniel Theis and Tatum added buckets for a 7-0 Celtics run and a 79-71 lead.
The Raptors got within four, 82-78, on a Siakam tip-in with 6:49 to go, but a Walker three-point play helped the Celtics to an 88-78 lead with 4:51 remaining.
The Raptors were down by nine, 60-51, in the third before a 17-7 stretch punctuated by a VanVleet three gave them a 68-67 advantage.
Boston led by as much as 12 early in the first, but Toronto ended the quarter up 27-26.
The Celtics roared back late in the second, riding an 11-0 spurt capped by a Brown three-pointer to a 44-40 edge with 2:44 left in the half. Boston entered the break up 50-46.