Celtics advance to face Cavs

The Associated Press

BOSTON–With 2.4 seconds left and the Boston Celtics leading by one, Marcus Smart had a chance to all but clinch Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals and eliminate Philadelphia by making a pair of free throws.
He missed the first.
He could have made things more difficult for the 76ers by missing the second one on purpose, and forcing them to go the length of the court with the clock running.
He chucked it against the rim; it went in.
That gave the 76ers a chance to win with a desperation three-pointer. The full-court in-bounds pass went into the left corner and who was there to intercept it, heaving it back into the air to run out the clock?
To the surprise of no one in a Celtics’ uniform, it was Smart.
“That’s a Marcus Smart sequence. That just describes him so well,” guard Jaylen Brown said after Boston beat Philadelphia 114-112 last night to advance to the Eastern Conference final for the second-straight season.
“If it came down to one guy coming up with it, everybody’s got their money on Smart.”
Jayson Tatum scored 25 points, Brown had 24, and Terry Rozier scored 17, sinking a pair of free throws to make it a four-point game with 9.8 seconds left after forcing Joel Embiid’s turnover.
The Celtics will play Cleveland in the Eastern Conference final for the second-straight year. Game 1 is Sunday in Boston.
It’s the Celtics’ first back-to-back trips to the conference final since making it five-straight times in the original “Big Three” era from 1984-88.
“When you get here, you’re flattered by the thought of the Boston Celtics,” coach Brad Stevens said. “You realize if you’re going to break records here, you’re going to break bad ones.
“Because none of the good ones are reachable.”
Embiid had 27 points and 12 rebounds for the 76ers.
The Sixers rode “The Process” back into the playoffs for the first time since 2012, winning won 20 out of 21 games before Boston beat them three-straight times to open the conference semi-finals.
“‘The Process’ is never going to end,” Embiid said. “This is a process to get to the playoffs, we did it. This was a process to get to the conference finals, we didn’t.
“Next year, that’s our goal.”

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