Base Terry Rozier and guard Marcus Smart scored in the final 10 seconds of regulation time the three decisive points that allowed the Boston Celtics to beat the Philadelphia 76ers 114-112 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals who won by 4-1 to the best of seven.
The victory left the Celtics back to the Eastern Conference finals for the second season in a row and will rival the Cleveland Cavaliers, who defend the title of champions and qualified after sweeping the Toronto Raptors 4-0.
The Celtics will have the advantage and the first game of the series to the best of seven will be played at the TD Garden in Boston, next Sunday.
It will be the first time the Celtics have reached the Eastern Conference finals consecutively since they did five times during the era of the “Big Three” originals that starred the team that played from 1984 to 1988.
“When you get to this competition room, it’s when you realize what the Celtics’ legacy means,” said Boston team coach Brad Stevens. “Here you can beat brands but the bad, because the good ones are practically unattainable.”
Rozier, who contributed 17 points, with 9.8 seconds remaining, scored two personnel shots that gave the Celtics the partial 113-109.
But the escort J.J. Redick responded with a triple and 4.7 seconds left for the 113-112 that put all the suspense on the scoreboard and in the game.
Until with 2.4 seconds before the horn sounded Smart scored the second of the two personnel shots he made and put the 114-112 that would be the final one after Australian baseman Ben Simmons gave a bad pass on the last possession of the ball. party and the own escort of the Celtics stole it.
Smart, who was supposed to have missed the second staff shot, wanted to put the suspense to the end and saw after scoring with the bounce of the ball, the Sixers had the opportunity to have achieved victory with a triple attempt, but the He corrected the error.
Before the end with suspense and heart, the Celtics had had rookie forward Jayson Tatum as their great scorer after getting 25 points, four assists and three rebounds, which allowed him to become the future franchise player.
Tatum, 20, and guard Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz are the only two NBA rookies with seven straight playoff games that have scored at least 20 points since legendary Julius Erving did it with the Sixers. in the 1972 season.
While guard Jaylen Brown, another of the young talents developed this season by the Celtics, after the losses of the franchise players, the base Kyrie Irving and the forward Gordo Hayward, responded with 24 points, including three triples of four attempts.
Rozier reached 17 points as the third highest scorer, grabbed six rebounds and delivered two assists.
The center pivot Al Hoford finished with 15 points after playing 39 minutes in which he scored 7 of 16 field goals, failed a triple attempt, and hit 1-1 from the line of personnel.
In addition to capturing eight rebounds – six defenses -, he gave three assists, recovered five balls, lost one and was fouled four personal fouls.
While the New Zealander pivot Aron Barnes reached the 13 points and captured nine rebounds, being the fifth holder of the Celtics who had double-digit numbers.
The Cameroonian center Joel Embiid with a double-double of 27 points and 10 rebounds was in charge of being the leader of the Sixers, which in the end, again, in the decisive moments did not achieve the many winners.
“The process never has to end and if we want to win the important matches we will have to fight from start to finish,” said Embiid at the end of the match. “The regular season allowed us to reach our goal, but in the playoffs we did not do it and therefore, in the next one that will be our goal”.
Croatian power forward Dario Saric also shone with a double-double of 27 points and 10 rebounds, while Simmons reached 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists.
The Sixers, who returned to the playoffs for the first time since the 2012 season, had won 20 of 21 games before reaching the series against the Celtics, lost the first three of the tie that left them with no choice to fight to be in the Eastern finals.
The game was so close that there were 21 leader changes, the biggest in the playoffs this season, until the Celtics scored eight consecutive points in the last 1:37 minutes of the game, which was what made the difference in the final score.