The Boston Celtics are going back to the Eastern Conference finals for the third time in four years.
Boston beat the Toronto Raptors 92-87 Friday in a choppy Game 7, knocking out the defending champs after a hard-fought series. The Celtics will now play the Miami Heat starting Tuesday for the right to go to the NBA Finals.
Boston and Miami last met in the conference finals in 2012, with the Heat winning in seven games.
Yet the story throughout the series was the Celtics’ defense. They held the Raptors to 41% shooting from the field and just 29% from deep in Game 7, while taking advantage of Toronto mistakes.
The Raptors turned the ball over 18 times, leading to 31 Boston points. Kyle Lowry shot just 5-of-15 – including 1-of-6 from deep – before fouling out in the final minute.
The game was also another disappointment for forward Pascal Siakam. The All-Star frequently looked rattled, at one point passing up a one-on-one opportunity against the smaller Brad Wanamaker before throwing a pass into traffic under the basket. That decision led to one of Siakam’s five turnovers on the night.
Siakam, a 36% 3-point shooter on the season, shot 4-of-32 from deep in the series.