kevin garnett

Kevin Garnett had 28 points and 14 rebounds, hitting a jumper to give Boston the lead with 31 seconds left, and the Celtics beat the Atlanta Hawks 83-80 in Game 6 on Thursday night to win their first-round playoff series and advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals for the fifth straight year.

The Celtics will play the Philadelphia 76ers, who eliminated East No. 1 seed Chicago in six games with a 79-78 victory earlier Thursday.

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 tackled 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 Hawks went 5 minutes without scoring early in the fourth quarter as the Celtics turned a two-point game into a 74-65 lead. But Atlanta scored 10 of the next 12 points, with Horford scoring the last three baskets, making it a one-point game on an alley-oop pass from Smith with 3:52 left.

– Reported by Jimmy Golden of the Associated Press