MIAMI (AP) — Jayson Tatum scored 26 points, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart each added 24 and the Boston Celtics held off a frantic rally in the final seconds to beat the Miami Heat 100-96 on Sunday night and reach the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010.
Al Horford added 14 rebounds for the Celtics, who never trailed on the way to pulling off a Game 7 win on the road — and not including the bubble, that was the first such victory for the storied franchise since beating Milwaukee for the 1974 NBA title.
Next up for Boston: the Golden State Warriors in a series that starts Thursday in San Francisco.
Jimmy Butler, who willed Miami into Game 7 by scoring 47 points on Friday in Boston, led the Heat with 35 points in what became their season finale. Bam Adebayo added 25 for the Heat, who were down 11 with under 3 minutes to go before trying one last rally.
An 9-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer from Max Strus with 51 seconds left, got the Heat within 98-96. They had a chance for the lead with about 17 seconds to go when Butler tried a 3-pointer from the right wing, but it missed — and the Celtics escaped.
Boston forced the Heat into nine consecutive misses during a crucial stretch of the fourth quarter, using that stretch to turn an 82-79 lead into a 90-79 edge — and the Celtics, who had lost each of their last four trips to the East finals, found a way to hold on.
Kyle Lowry scored 15 for the Heat. Grant Williams finished with 11 for the Celtics.