Sixers nip Bulls, Boston top Hawks as both teams advance to semifinals
Andre Iguodala made the go-ahead free throws with 2.2 seconds left and the Philadelphia 76ers rallied for a 79-78 victory over the top-seeded Chicago Bulls in Game 6 on Thursday night, advancing to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs for the first time since 2003.
Omer Asik missed two free throws for the Bulls with 7 seconds left that would have sealed the win. Iguodala grabbed the second miss, sprinted the length of the court, and was fouled by Asik on the driving layup.
The Sixers are the fifth No. 8 seed to win a first-round series against a No. 1 seed. Memphis eliminated San Antonio last season, while Golden State (2007), New York (1999) and Denver (1994) also pulled off the rare feat.
In his second season, coach Doug Collins had already led the Sixers to their first winning season in seven years.
Iguodala scored 20 points, and Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams each scored 14. The Sixers won even though the Bulls crushed them 56-33 on the boards.
Luol Deng had 19 points and 17 rebounds for the Bulls. Richard Hamilton scored 19 points and Carlos Boozer grabbed 13 rebounds.
But without their stars, the Bulls found it tough to gut one out against the Sixers, and will head home early after being knocked out by Philadelphia in the opening round.
Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics edged the Atlanta Hawks 83-80 in Game 6 on Thursday night to advance to Eastern Conference semifinal round for the fifth straight year.
Kevin Garnett had 28 points and 14 rebounds, hitting a jumper to give Boston the lead with 31 seconds left.
The Celtics will play the Sixers, who eliminated East No. 1 seed Chicago in six games with a 79-78 victory earlier.
Garnett topped his regular-season high of 25 points and had five blocks and three steals for Boston, which has won at least one playoff series every year since the new Big 3 was assembled. Paul Pierce had 18 points despite playing with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee, and Rajon Rondo had 14 points and eight assists.
Josh Smith had 19 points and nine rebounds for Atlanta, which failed to advance in the playoffs for the first time in four years. Joe Johnson had 17 points, Marvin Williams added 16 and eight rebounds and Al Horford had 15 points and nine rebounds.
But Horford missed the first of two foul shots with 2.3 seconds left after he was fouled by Marquis Daniels to avoid an easy dunk that would have tied the game. After he made the second, the Celtics got the ball to Pierce, he was fouled and made both free throws.
The Celtics will open the second round against Philadelphia in Boston on Saturday night.
(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)