Rapid Recap is designed for the busiest of Celtics fans. Whether you can’t stay awake to read 10 paragraphs or your hangover is just too much, Rapid Recap tells the timeline of the game in only a minute or two.
There was no way this one would be easy for the Celtics. Games against the Sixers never are, even in this case, with Ben Simmons out for the duration and taking a lot of his squad’s offensive potency with him. So we got a grindy, grimy contest that Boston narrowly won, 109-101.
Jayson Tatum was the Cs unquestioned star with a massive 32-13 double-double (plus an assist and 3 blocks), but Jaylen Brown wasn’t far behind at 29 points, 6 boards, 4 assists and 3 steals. It was good they scored so prolifically, because aside from them and Kemba Walker (19-1-5 plus a steal), there wasn’t a ton of offense. Gordon Hayward had a reasonably balanced line of 12-4-3 plus 4 steals, but sprained his right ankle—not that ankle, yet nevertheless, his future in the series is uncertain.
This game started largely as a war between Brown and Joel Embiid on offense, but Kemba Walker arguably had the hottest highlights (including a pretty dish to Daniel Theis for a dunk, not pictured):
Yet as expected, these two squads were immensely closely matched throughout the frame. (And that’s WITH the absence of Simmons; there’s a reason why Celtics fans dreaded this matchup until the Australian point forward’s injury.) This gave us 12 minutes of oft-traded leads, with the Sixers narrowly holding a 26-25 lead when it ended.
Carlin’s analysis there seems right on the money.
Additionally, the Cs were well-equipped to force Sixers turnovers and score off of them, but Philly had a knack for turning bad shots into second-chance points that Boston couldn’t match. This was one of many things that made the game often feel like a war of attrition: Neither squad had an obvious advantage. Embiid is probably the best player in this series, whereas the Celtics are a better overall team but can still be smacked around by Embiid (and Horford, and Harris, and arguably even Matisse Thybulle).
Around halfway through Q2, Boston’s key weapon materialized in the form of Jayson Tatum:
21 POINTS IN THE FIRST HALF.
Mike, in keeping with his status as the grand sage of Red’s Army, is wise to note that the Cs allowed way too much quality offense from the Sixers despite how hard they were working on defense. Fortunately, Tatum kept his surge going through the early third-quarter minutes to keep Philly at bay.
Boston extended their lead over Philly as far as 10 midway through the third, and then got a little cocky, started trying some heat-check shit that didn’t pan out. (Theis, for example, has developed a more than serviceable jumper, but was far too trigger-happy with it on consecutive possessions.) AAAAND then it was tied. And then Philly had the lead.
I’m not saying it was entirely Kanter’s fault…but I’m not not saying it either. 79-75 Sixers at the end of three frames.
Al Horford starting to come into his own didn’t make things any easier.
Brown, Walker and Tatum went to work immediately to start regaining the lead, and despite some tough Sixers defense and other issues, the Cs re-tied it four minutes in.
Admittedly, Kanter was helpful in making up for some of his earlier mistakes:
Some controversy when Horford sorta grab-tackled Brown on a drive and Brown laid it on a bit thick to get a flagrant out of what was probably a common foul…but it benefited the Cs, so *shrug emoji.* This was part of a 9-0 run that gave Boston back the lead.
GRANT saw some action finally in Q4 and extended some Cs possessions with tough rebounding:
The combined strength of Jayson and Jaylen—plus some clutch free throws by Kemba—put this one away for the Cs. But with Hayward injuring his ankle, any definitive prediction for this series would not be wise.
Hopefully it’s just a sprain and he’ll only miss a couple of games.