Boston fans who fancied a win over the blokes from Philadelphia are feeling jolly good right now, after the Celtics won in London, 114-103. As is their bad habit, the Cs fell way behind – by 22 in the second quarter – but this time not only came back but won going away. Boston outscored Philly by 33 points over the final 30:56 of play.
The Game Flow
The Cs started like they had left their game in the States, falling behind 7-0 and 9-2, forcing a very early timeout from Brad Stevens. Aron Baynes was effective early with six points, but JJ Redick hit four of his first five to fuel Philly. Marcus Morris provided a spark off Boston’s bench with seven points, but Redick finished the quarter with 13 points and Ben Simmons added eight. Celts shot only 38.9% from the field to Philly’s 48% and trailed at the buzzer, 28-23.
Early second, Joel Embiid overpowered Daniel Theis in the low post for a traditional three-point play. When Redick drained his fourth triple of the night, the Sixers’ lead swelled to 13. The barrage continued as TJ McConnell and Embiid scored from in close and Robert Covington swished one from the top of the arc. 45-27, Sixers.
One sequence summed up Boston’s first-half futility: Jayson Tatum missed an open layup; a Philly player rebounded but threw the ball away to Theis; the big German passed back to Tatum for another open layup; the rookie fumbled it out of bounds. Ugh.
After Philly’s lead peaked at 22, the Celts began to crawl back behind Jaylen Brown. The second-year forward made a free throw, missed his second try, but nailed a triple after Boston gathered the offensive rebound. He followed that with two layups and a dunk, for a total of 10 points in the quarter. Kyrie Irving, who couldn’t throw the ball in the River Thames to that point, added seven in the period (it might’ve been more but the refs missed an Embiid foul on Irving’s shot at the buzzer). In any case, the Celtics had a 15-3 run over the final four minutes to close to 57-48 at halftime.
Tatum, who was invisible in the first 24 minutes, opened the third by draining a three (the Sixers literally forgot to guard him), causing Philly coach Brett Brown to call his own frustration timeout. But now the lid was off for Boston: Kyrie hit two in a row from the arc, Tatum swished four straight shots, and when Al Horford fed a cutting Theis for a dunk, the Celts took their first lead at 69-68. Jaylen got a third-chance layup with an and-one – and sank the free throw! – to increase the lead to four. When Morris nailed a mid-range jumper, the Celts had a 9-0 run and a 74-68 advantage with 4:29 left in the third.
The Sixers cooperated by going nearly 5½ minutes without a field goal until Embiid dunked on a fast break. The final few minutes of the period were highlighted by triples from Horford and Terry Rozier, and Philly missing out on two points when Embiid’s slam came after the buzzer. The Celts won the quarter, 37-22, and led 85-79 going to the fourth.
Two minutes in, the Celtics were in transition when Morris fumbled his dribble. He dove to save it from going out of bounds and somehow found Rozier, who bombed another three for a 92-83 lead. Philly appeared demoralized, and when Marcus Smart dropped a three, Boston led 102-85 with just 6:59 remaining. Ballgame. Only some pity calls by the refs kept the final margin from being 20 or more.
Late drama: Simmons lowered his shoulder and tried to run through a Morris pick. Naturally, Mook objected and shoved the rookie, earning a technical.
Brown, Irving, Tatum and Morris combined for 76 points.
Horford: 13 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, one block.
Sixers were outscored 66-46 in the second half.
Philly now has lost 14 of their last 15 versus Boston.
Tweet of the Night
Sent when the Sixers led 54-37:
What the Hell Just Happened?
Mike Gorman’s Salem witchcraft works internationally.