Kevin Garnett, labeled as the "dirtiest guy" in the NBA by Hawks owner Michael Gearon this week, let his production speak for itself Thursday night as he hit the go-ahead jumper with 30.6 seconds left in Game 6 as the Celtics closed out the Hawks, 83-80, before a roaring sellout crowd at TD Garden. Garnett had 28 points, 14 rebounds, five blocks and three steals as the Celtics elminated the Hawks, 4-2, and advance to face Philadelphia in the next round starting Saturday at TD Garden. Josh Smith missed a mid-range jumper with 10 seconds remaining and, with a chance to tie, Al Horford missed one of two free throws with 2.3 seconds remaining to allow the Celtics to escape.
Horford scored six points during a 12-2 run to help the Hawks erase a seven-point fourth-quarter deficit and build a 79-76 lead before the Celtics came back in the final two minutes. The Celtics won despite scoring just two field goals in the final 8:42 of the game.
Rajon Rondo had 14 points and Paul Pierce had 18 points in 40 minutes as the Celtics earned a date with the 76ers in the Eastern semifinals. The Sixers got two free throws from Andre Iguodala with 2.2 seconds left Thursday to eliminate the visiting Bulls, 79-78, and become the fifth No. 8 seed in NBA playoff history to knock off a No. 1 seed.
The Celtics played the game with several of their stars injured. Pierce is playing with a sprained MCL in his left knee, Garnett a bothersome hip flexor and Avery Bradley a sore rotator cuff that has caused his shoulder to come partially out of its socket several times this season.
The Hawks reversed a trend and came out hot, shooting 50 percent in the first quarter and building their lead to as much as six before settling for a 23-20 lead after one.
Rondo and Garnett continued their series-long dominance of the Hawks by sparking a 16-0 second quarter as the Celtics went from six down to up 10, 41-31, on Rondo's driving layup. Rondo had three assists and four points while Garnett started the run with a turnaround fadeaway, finishing with five points in the spurt.
The Celtics forced six Atlanta turnovers and converted them into 10 points. The Celtics shot a blistering 60 percent and took a 47-41 halftime lead. Garnett had 13 points, seven rebounds, three steals and one block in 21 minutes in the first half. The Hawks got back-to-back jumpers from Joe Johnson and Josh Smith to cut the lead to six before the break.
The Hawks stayed close in the third quarter, thanks in large part to their long-range attack. Marvin Williams and Jeff Teague hit consecutive treys as the Hawks cut the Boston lead to two, 65-63. As the third-quarter clock was winding down, Kevin Garnett found Rondo on a high screen and Rondo dribbled and got off a jumper that found nothing but net as the buzzer sounded, sending the Garden crowd into pandemonium.
The Hawks were 7-for-14 from 3-point range through three quarters.
For complete coverage of Game 6 from the Garden from the team of Paul Flannery, Mike Petraglia, Ben Rohrbach and Ryan Hadfield, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics  and the Green Street  blog.