NBA

Butler battles for all 48 but Celtics make NBA Finals

By Sports Desk May 29, 2022

The Boston Celtics have advanced to the NBA Finals, defeating the Miami Heat 100-96 on Sunday and taking out the Eastern Conference Finals.

Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart combined for 74 points, as Boston confirmed their 10th conference title and a 22nd finals appearance.

Tatum received the inaugural Larry Bird Trophy for Eastern Conference Finals MVP, coming into Game 7 with an average of 24.8 points.

The three-time All-Star finished Game 7 on the road with 26 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, two blocks and a steal, in what was an exceptional performance.

In a game of momentum swings, the Heat trailed as much as 17 points at one stage, but gained momentum with defensive stops and consequent transition baskets to bring it back to single digits.

Boston restored their buffer midway through the fourth quarter with an 8-0 run, before Jayson Tatum drained a massive step-back three-pointer deep in the shot clock with just under six minutes remaining.

The Heat fought to get it to a one-possession game, and after backing up Max Strus' triple with a defensive stop, had the ball with 17 seconds left.

Jimmy Butler, who willed the Heat and the series back to Miami with 47 points in Game 6, played all 48 minutes and had the chance to either tie or win the game with what was effectively their final possession.

He opted for the latter but his three-point attempt was short, with Al Horford's rebound confirming the result and series.

The Celtics will now face the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, with Game 1 to take place on Thursday.

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