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Celtics fend off Cavs, return to Eastern Conference finals - ESPN

BOSTON — The Boston Celtics, behind 25 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists from Jayson Tatum, defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 113-98 in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series Wednesday night, winning the series 4 games to 1 and advancing to the Eastern Conference finals.

With the victory, Boston advanced to the East finals for a third straight season. It also marks the sixth trip in eight years — the second time the Celtics have accomplished that feat (1980-88) and joining the Philadelphia 76ers (1977-85), Los Angeles Lakers (1980-91), Chicago Bulls (1989-98), Detroit Pistons (2003-08) and Golden State Warriors (2015-22) in doing so since the NBA went to a two-conference format in the 1970-71 season.

Boston will now await the winner of the other Eastern Conference semifinal between the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers, which New York leads 3 games to 2 heading into Friday's Game 6 in Indianapolis, with the conference finals set to begin here at TD Garden either Sunday afternoon or Tuesday night.

For much of the first half Wednesday night, however, it looked like that might not be the case — despite Cleveland entering the game missing star guard Donovan Mitchell (left calf strain); guard Caris LeVert (left knee bone bruise), Mitchell's replacement in the starting lineup in Game 4; and starting center Jarrett Allen, who missed his eighth straight game with a bruised rib.

Despite that, however, Cleveland led for chunks of the first half — mainly behind a red-hot shooting performance from former Celtic Marcus Morris who had 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting in the opening 24 minutes — before Boston eventually took a 58-52 lead into the first half break.

It was the latest reminder of how the Celtics have played