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Celtics advance to third straight Eastern Conference Finals thanks to throwback performance from Al Horford

BOSTON -- The Celtics are heading back to the Eastern Conference Finals. Boston finished off the Cleveland Cavaliers with a 113-98 Game 5 victory Wednesday night at TD Garden.

With the win, the Celtics advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the third straight year and the sixth time in the last eight seasons. Boston will face the winner of the New York Knicks-Indiana Pacers series, with the Knicks up 3-2 heading into Friday night's Game 6 in Indiana.

The Celtics had their hands full with an undermanned Cavaliers team for much of Wednesday night, but came out on top thanks to a throwback performance from Al Horford. The 37-year-old big man put in 22 points off 8-for-15 shooting, hitting six of his 13 three-pointers, to go with 15 rebounds, five assists, and three blocks. Seven of Horford's rebounds came off the offensive glass.

Jayson Tatum led the way for Boston with 25 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists. Derrick White added 18 points, five rebounds, and six assists, while Jaylen Brown scored 11 points and pulled down seven rebounds.

Cleveland was down Donovan Mitchell, Caris LeVert, and Jarrett Allen, but got huge nights from Evan Mobley and Marcus Morris. Mobley led all scorers with 33 points, and Morris was lights out off the bench, shooting 10-for-13 overall and 5-for-6 from three-point range for 25 points.

With Morris giving Boston issues early, the game was tied at the end of the first quarter and the Celtics led by just six at halftime. Boston started to pull away in the third after an 11-0 run, but then went five minutes without a field goal later in the frame. A late flurry by the Cavs had Cleveland back within six by the end of the quarter.

But the Celtics got their act together in the fourth quarter, going on a 13-2 run to go up by 14 points with 6:45 to play. The Cavaliers cut it to nine points, but Jrue Holiday canned a three with less than three minutes to play to put Boston up by a dozen. He essentially sealed the game for Boston with a layup off a Horford offensive rebound to make it a 14-point game.

For good measure, Horford drained a three 56 seconds left, sending the TD Garden into hysterics and the Celtics to the Conference Finals. Horford scored eight points and pulled down nine of his rebounds in the final frame, while Holiday hit all five of his shots and scored 11 points in the fourth quarter.

The Celtics are now 8-2 in the postseason, though both of their losses have come at TD Garden. Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals will either be on Sunday or Tuesday in Boston.

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