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The Boston Celtics are advancing to the NBA Finals following a nail-biting 100 to 96 Game 7 victory over the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals Sunday night.
Celtics All-NBA forward Jayson Tatum walked away with the first ever Eastern Conference Finals Most Valuable Player award named after Celtics legend Larry Bird.
Tatum finished the game with 26 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in the series clinching win.
The Celtics received contributions across the board. Guards Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart chipped in with 24 points each, and backup big man Grant Williams had 11.
The Heat fell just short of their second finals appearance in three years. Guard Jimmy Butler delivered 35 points, nine rebounds and one assist in a losing effort.
Boston narrowly closed out the Heat in a game that looked all but over with about two minutes remaining, but the Heat went on an 11-0 run to cut the lead to two. The Celtics would hang on down the stretch and come out with the win.
“Today was the biggest test, not just of the year, but of our careers: to mentally come into a Game 7 away, after losing on our home court, and we got it done,” Brown told reporters after the game.
The Celtics snapped a drought of four consecutive losses in the conference finals, coming up short in 2012, 2017, 2018 and 2020. This will be Celtics first finals appearance since 2010, when they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers.
They will have the opportunity to bring home the Larry O’Brien trophy for the first time since 2008 should they win the Finals.
They will play the Western Conference Finals champion, the Golden State Warriors, in the final round of the playoffs.
Game 1 of the NBA Finals will tip off Thursday night at 9 p.m.