Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers have been eliminated from the NBA playoffs after a nail-biting loss to Aron Baynes’ Celtics in game five of the Eastern Conference semi-finals.
The big Queenslander Baynes had a huge game for the Celtics in their 114-112 victory in Boston on Wednesday to take the series 4-1 and set up a conference finals match-up with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The 76ers’ squad entered the playoffs on a 16-game winning streak and high expectations but the Celtics shook off injuries to players including Australian-born All-Star Kyrie Irving to win the first three games and close it out on their home court.
Baynes and Simmons were involved in numerous one-on-one duels under the basket and involved in big plays down the stretch.
Baynes had 13 points, including on three-pointer, and nine rebounds while Simmons had 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists.
76ers centre Joel Embiid had 27 points and 12 rebounds.
The Celtics’ rookie Jayson Tatum dropped 25 points.
The 208cm, 118kg Baynes battled for rebounds, set solid screens and took the ball to the basket, including one play in which he faked Simmons out before scoring.
With 10 seconds left, Baynes stopped Embiid scoring a potential game-winner with rugged defence.
Baynes also continued his recently acquired three-point form, dropping a long bomb late in the second quarter that sparked the Celtics on a 19-6 run.