BOSTON — Paul Millsap had 17 points and eight rebounds, Al Horford and Kent Bazemore each scored 15 points and the Atlanta Hawks eliminated the Boston Celtics with a 104-92 victory in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on Thursday night at TD Garden.
Kyle Korver had 14 points and nine boards and Jeff Teague added 11 for Atlanta, which led by as many as 28 points in the second half en route to its first playoff series win over Boston in nearly 60 years.
Atlanta will face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round, which begins Monday at Quicken Loans Arena.
The Hawks lost all three meetings with the Cavaliers during the regular season by an average of 9.7 points. Cleveland also swept Atlanta when the two teams met in last season’s Eastern Conference Finals.
Isaiah Thomas had a double-double with 25 points and 10 assists to lead Boston. Joe Crowder finished with 15 points and Marcus Smart and Jonas Jerebko each added 13 for the Celtics.
Boston shot 36.2 percent (34 of 94) Thursday and was held to 38.4 percent (206 of 537) in the series.
The Hawks outscored the Celtics 39-26 in the third quarter and led 89-61 with 9:51 remaining, but the Celtics battled back to come within 96-86 on Thomas’ floater with 1:48 left.
Atlanta led by as many as six points in the first quarter before ending the period up 20-17.
Thomas played the entire first quarter, but was held scoreless until a driving layup with 2:25 left in the frame.
Crowder’s dunk with 4:26 left before halftime brought the crowd back to life and pulled Boston within 34-25, but the Hawks stretched the lead to 41-33 entering the break.
Millsap had eight points and five rebounds in the half for Atlanta, which led by as many as 13 in the opening half. Thomas had nine points and five assists to lead Boston.
The Celtics were limited to 27.7 percent shooting (13 of 47) in the opening half.
Celtics G Isaiah Thomas (left ankle sprain) was in the starting lineup after leaving in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s Game 5 loss. Thomas, whose 24.0 points per game ranked sixth in the postseason through five games, aggravated the injury in Game 4. … Atlanta’s last playoff series victory over Boston came 58 years ago, when the then-St. Louis Hawks went on to win their only NBA title in 1958. The Hawks’ last postseason win in Boston came in 1988, a 112-104 victory. … Boston last made three consecutive first-round exits from 1948 to 1952, the franchise’s first three postseason appearances. The Celtics lost to New York in the first round of the 2012-13 playoffs and was swept by Cleveland in last year’s opening round. … Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez was spotted in the crowd. The Red Sox host New York for a weekend series beginning Friday. … The Cleveland Cavaliers, who swept Detroit in a first-round matchup, play host to Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Monday.
Heat vs. Hornets Preview — The Charlotte Hornets have won three straight games and took full control of the their first-round series against the fourth-seeded Miami Heat by stealing a win on the road on Wednesday. The Hornets have a chance to close out the series and advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals when they host the Heat in Game 6 on Friday (8 p.m., ESPN).
Charlotte leaned on its backcourt to even the series in Game 4 with a combined 55 points from Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lin but got only 25 points from the two in Game 5 while the frontcourt took control. Courtney Lee was having the worst night of the backcourt quartet before hitting the biggest shot of the game — a 3-pointer with 25.2 seconds left that put the Hornets in front for good. “I was wide open so I just let it fly,” Lee told reporters. “If I had to draw it up, I’ll take shooting 1-for-8 before I knock down a big shot any day.” The Heat will leave Miami with the same feelings they had after leaving Charlotte following Game 4 as they question the refereeing but the NBA said Thursday that a non-foul on Dwyane Wade with 2.6 seconds left was the correct call.
ABOUT THE HEAT: Miami was dismayed by the whistles blown against them in Game 4 and subtly questioned the disparity in personal foul calls after the game but were more open about things after Game 5. Wade told reporters that he was fouled on the layup attempt that would have tied the game in the final seconds and his wife, actress Gabrielle Union, took to Twitter to advocate for fining the refs. “It hurts losing at home,” Heat coach Eric Spoelstra told reporters. “But welcome to the playoffs. The playoffs just started now. One team beat somebody on the road. Now it gets real. Now we just have to collect ourselves, as raw as it feels right now. We have 48 hours to regroup and get ready for a heck of a battle in Game 6.”
ABOUT THE HORNETS: Charlotte doesn’t know what it is going to get out of forward Marvin Williams from game-to-game in the playoffs, but he stepped up with a team-high 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting to go along with eight rebounds and three steals in Game 5. The Hornets changed up the lineup before Game 3 and pushed Al Jefferson into a starting role with fellow center Frank Kaminsky, leaving Williams to do damage on the wing against smaller defenders. Williams went scoreless in 37 minutes in Game 4 and was a combined 1-of-17 in the first two games of the series but put together solid performances in two of the last three to help support Walker, Lin and Lee.