NBA Playoffs: Celtics through to finals after epic Game 7 win in Miami

Miami, Florida - The Boston Celtics are in the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010 after taking down the Miami Heat 100-96 on Sunday to become Eastern Conference champions!

Jayson Tatum (l.) and Al Horford (r.) celebrate the Celtics' Game 7 win in Miami that sent them to the NBA Finals.
Jayson Tatum (l.) and Al Horford (r.) celebrate the Celtics' Game 7 win in Miami that sent them to the NBA Finals.  © USA TODAY Sports

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 a sensational performance, which included 26 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, two blocks, and a steal.

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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 Tatum drained a massive step-back three-pointer deep in the shot clock with just under six minutes remaining. It would prove to be decisive.

Heat and Jimmy Butler fall short

The Celtics lift the Bob Cousy Trophy as champions of the Eastern Conference.
The Celtics lift the Bob Cousy Trophy as champions of the Eastern Conference.  © USA TODAY Sports

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

Jimmy Butler, who willed the Heat and the series back to Florida 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.

Cover photo: USA TODAY Sports

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