Celtics hold off hawks to advance in NBA Playoffs

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Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum combined for 62 points and the Boston Celtics clamped down late to hold off the Atlanta Hawks in a 128-120 thriller on Thursday to win their NBA Eastern Conference first-round playoff series.

The Celtics, trying to get back to the NBA Finals after falling last season to the Golden State Warriors, won the best-of-seven series 4-2 to line up a conference semi-final showdown with a Philadelphia 76ers team led by Joel Embiid and James Harden.

Trae Young, hero of the Hawks’ 119-117 come-from-behind victory in game five that extended the series on Tuesday, scored 30 points with 10 assists.

But Young ran out of gas in the second half, scoring just five points after the break and finishing the game nine-for-28 from the field.

Brown scored 32 points and Tatum had 30 for the Celtics, who used an 11-0 run in the fourth quarter to finally take control of a game that featured 22 lead changes and was tied 15 times.

“I think in that fourth quarter, four minutes left, we made winning plays,” Tatum told broadcaster TNT. “We talked about it before the game — do whatever it takes.”

The lead changed hands seven times in the fourth quarter alone. Former Hawk Al Horford put the Celtics up for good with a three-pointer with 3:35 remaining.

Tatum followed with another three-pointer, Brown produced a block and Tatum slammed home a Horford miss to cap the 11-0 run that had the Celtics up by eight with 2:07 to play.

BY AFP.

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