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Celtics bury Magic

BOSTON — In the end, it was the beginning of the games that doomed the Magic and sent them on an unwanted vacation.

The Celtics followed a familiar pattern in a clinching 96-84 victory in Game 6 on Friday night, charging out to take control and earn their second trip to the NBA Finals in three seasons.

They will face the winner of the Western Conference finals between the Lakers and Suns, which the Lakers lead 3-2.

The Celtics built upon early leads in three of their four victories, a tell-tale Game 3 rout putting the Magic in an inescapable 0-3 series hole.

Playing catch-up all series, the Magic had come back in the Eastern Conference finals with two wins against the 2008 champs.

But they couldn't come back Friday after falling behind by 21 points in the first half against the Celtics, who thoroughly outplayed them on both ends to nix any dream of a Game 7 in Orlando on Sunday.

The season ended bitterly for the Magic.

All-star center Dwight Howard gave the Celtics problems, but he didn't have enough help in the game that ended their season. Point guard Jameer Nelson was held in check, as was shooting guard J.J. Redick.

Paul Pierce had 31 points and 13 rebounds, and little-used backup Nate Robinson gave the Celtics a boost with 13 second-quarter points.

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