Rapid Recap: Kemba, Tatum lead Celtics to first-ever playoff sweep of Sixers in Game 4

Rapid Recap: Kemba, Tatum lead Celtics to first-ever playoff sweep of Sixers in Game 4


Rapid Recap: Kemba, Tatum lead Celtics to first-ever playoff sweep of Sixers in Game 4


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.

“Please, sirs, the Celtics fanbase would like to see some brooms today.” And brooms we got, albeit in somewhat grim fashion. After a tough back-and-forth, lead-changing battle for 2.5 quarters in which the Sixers capitalized on free throws while Kemba Walker powered the Cs with one of his best recent performances, an ugly-looking injury to Tobias Harris’s eye thinned an already Simmons-less roster, and a Jayson Tatum scoring drive sealed the deal. (The 110-106 final score is…misleading, to say the least.)

Walker complimented the 32 points of his first-ever playoff series win with 4 boards, 4 assists, a steal and 2 blocks. Tatum’s performance was just as dominant in its own way: 28-15-4 plus a steal and 2 blocks. Jaylen Brown didn’t score as prolifically (16-5-2 and a steal), but still had vital triples and defensive actions, and Daniel Theis had one of his best scoring games in the bubble with 15 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and a block.

The War on Theis started early today. He lasted 30 seconds before a foul and a turnover forced Kanter to replace him:

(For what it’s worth, Kanter has generally been pretty solid this series, so it wasn’t a huge issue early on in this contest, despite his deficiencies in pick-and-roll defense and other areas.)

Kemba was the primary offensive force in the first quarter, establishing a decent lead on Philly alongside Brown. Tatum seemed more focused on playing a facilitator role early on, but had this highlight:

But the Cs goofed by getting in the bonus too early, allowing the Sixers to crawl back into the game, and then a lead, despite making few actual baskets. (None of the usual ref annoyances—the Foster/Brothers/Zarba trio—were present. This was just the bubble’s generally oversensitive whistle, some legit Boston mistakes and a definite dip in Boston shotmaking.)

(Sidebar: Some folks think national broadcasters have been in the tank for Philly, and that might’ve been true in Game 3, but…find you someone who compliments you the way Doris Burke compliments Jayson Tatum. I’ll allow it!)

Boston quickly got back into it with a series of triples by Theis and Kemba, the latter of whom withstood a dogshit hip-check from Embiid and then immediately responded by draining another three. (Walker had 18 of his blank points after barely 16 minutes of gameplay.) The Cs retook and kept the lead despite some very odd moments, like a truly embarrassing sequence of Semi Ojeleye mistakes:

You know how I said Kanter was doing OK earlier? Forget that. It didn’t last long. More importantly, Philly turned up the intensity on their defense back to what it was most of the regular season, and then they were in the lead again, though it was a rather narrow 58-57.

Kemba’s intensity from the first half didn’t abate, and became infectious among the rest of the squad:

Brad Stevens, unfortunately, decided to get cute with his lineup at a rather inopportune time. I know he wanted to give the starters some rest, but…having Romeo Langford, Grant Williams and Brad Wanamaker out there with Theis and Jayson Tatum seemed unwise.

It all became moot, however, when Harris got tangled with Tatum on a drive for a layup and slammed his head on the ground.

He bled seriously from either the eye. All you can do is hope it’s not too serious.

Not gonna lie, the run the Cs went on after Harris left the floor didn’t exactly feel satisfying, even if it brought them their largest lead of the game.

The final frame was ultimately anticlimactic, as such things often are when an injury is either one of or the deciding factor in how a game unfolds. Tatum led the final charge, with Brown doing plenty of work as well, and the damage Kemba had already done sealed the fate of the Sixers’ season.

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