The 76ers are a juggernaut.
Philadelphia is going to the Finals.
Trust the Process.
F-ck that! The Celtics throttled the 76ers tonight, 117-101, in Game 1 of their playoff series.
Boston painted a masterpiece. White-hot shooting (17-36 3 FG), near flawless execution and strong defense paved the way to this win.
Sure, it helped that Philly shot 5-26 from deep. But the poor shooting is only half the story. The Celtics controlled the game. The vaunted Philly transition game netted just 10 points. The Celtics were more than content to let Joel Embiid (31 points, 13 reb) plod his way to the basket.
Terry Rozier (29 points, 7-9 3 FG), Jayson Tatum (28 points) and Al Horford (26 points, 10-12 FG) were f-ing brilliant. Tremendous performances.
Meanwhile, Ben Simmons had as many turnovers (7) as Rozier had 3-pointers.
Play was sloppy early. Philly missed 10 of their first 14 shots but led 9-8 thanks to Dario Saric’s work on the offensive glass. Boston turned up the defense, Terry Rozier (10 points, 6 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block) went into take-over mode and the Celtics found themselves up 21-13. They finished the quarter up 25-22. Jayson Tatum had 7 points by drawing 3 fouls and making his FTs (5-5). Simmons with 3 TOs in the quarter.
The teams traded buckets for the first half of the 2nd quarter. Embiid went to work in the post but Al Horford rattled off 8 straight points on an array of fadeaways, layups and dunks. Boston stretched the lead to double-digits, 43-33. The Cs maintained the pace and took a 56-45 lead in the halftime. Tatum – who continued to pants Belinelli – led all scorers with 16 points. 76ers just 3-15 from 3.
Any concerns about a sluggish start to the 2nd half were quickly erased when Smart and Rozier went back-to-back on 3s to push the lead to 12. Philly kept working Embiid in the post and he kept scoring (11 in the quarter). But another triple by Smart (!) and Baynes 2nd triple (!!) helped push the lead to 14. Boston maintained a double-digit lead for the remainder of the quarter and led 87-75.
Philly cut the lead to 88-79 and got the ball to Embiid in the post. But just as my sphincter tightened up, Embiid turned the ball over and Rozier nailed another triple. Boston continued to execute. Horford followed a shot-clock beating jumper with another back-breaking 3-pointer. And after Saric fouled Tatum beyond the arc, the lead reached a game high 18 points. Boston never faltered and both teams emptied the benches in the final minute.
Danny Ainge with some commentary on the officiating: