Terry Rozier’s team-high 29 points propelled the Boston Celtics out to a 1-0 series lead over the Philadelphia 76ers following Monday night’s 117-101 win at the TD Garden in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Boston came in having won the season series 3-1 over the Sixers, who were a ridiculous 20-1 since mid-March. And the Sixers were coming off a 4-1 series win over the sixth-seeded Miami Heat, and hadn’t played since last Tuesday’s Game 5 win.
As for the Celtics, they were coming off a lengthy seven-game series against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the seventh-seeded Milwaukee Bucks, which they finished up on Saturday night with a 112-96 win in Game 7.
Marcus Smart got the start in place of Jaylen Brown, who was downgraded to out with a hamstring strain shortly before tipoff.
Terry Rozier III showed up to The Garden rocking a throwback Drew Bledsoe New England Patriots jersey and it was wicked awesome!
#NEBHInjuryReport: Brad Stevens says Jaylen Brown is "on the phone with the team doctor right now" discussing whether or not he will play tonight. But Stevens terms his as "very doubtful" for tonight. Marcus Smart will start if Brown doesn't play.— Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 30, 2018
All season long, Jayson Tatum has been able to find a way to finish at the rim. It’s really something magical.
Tatum scores the bucket - and draws the foul! pic.twitter.com/rdaORSwiFb— Boston Celtics (@celtics) May 1, 2018
The Sixers jumped out to an early 9-6 lead, but the Celtics battled back with a sweet 15-4 run to take a 21-13 lead with 3:14 left in the first.
Philly was able to cut the C’s lead to three to start the second at 25-22. “Scary Terry” came to life early, dropping a quick dime in the first like it was no big deal.
Joel Embiid and Sixers finally pulled ahead of the C’s at 31-30 four minutes into the second. But after both teams built some new brick houses through the better half of the second, things were tied up at 33-33 with 7:05 left on the clock.
That’s when the Celtics snapped off a 16-4 run, capped off by a Tatum three to take a 49-37 lead with 3:12 remaining in the second.
After out-scoring the Sixers by eight in the second and shooting 48.9 percent from the field, while knocking down 7-of-16 from deep, the Celtics held a 56-45 lead heading into halftime.
J.J Redick and the Sixers shot 37 percent from the field, while out-rebounding the C’s 25-21 in the first half.
The Celts and Sixers exchanged blows throughout the third as the Celtics maintained their lead to start the final frame, 87-75. But during the third, Horford pulled a play out of Bledsoe’s book and hit Tatum with the lead pass for a slam bam.
Al Horford throws the full-court dime to Tatum! pic.twitter.com/5crEIUHjeF— Boston Celtics (@celtics) May 1, 2018
And Smart nailed this ridiculous shot while going to the floor.
The Celtics buckled down on defensive end in the fourth, just like they did throughout the game, while keeping the Sixers in check down the stretch.
They were also quick to take full advantage of stretches of defensive lapses by the Sixers. And they would eventually go onto out-score the 76ers in all four quarters.
With Horford being the biggest culprit of all. Just look at what he did to the Sixers here.
Nothing average about Al. ???????? pic.twitter.com/2UPNCIm9FI— Boston Celtics (@celtics) May 1, 2018
Rozier’s 16 second-half points helped to propel the Celtics to an early lead in the best-of-seven.
The Sixers, who held opponents to the lowest opposing field goal and three-point shooting percentages in the NBA, allowed the Celtics to shoot an impressive 48.2 percent from the field and 47.2 percent from three.
Dario Saric and the 76ers shot below 20 percent from deep, while shooting 42.2 percent from the field.
Tatum was simply sensational. He finished with a new playoff career-high 28 points on 50 percent shooting, to go with three rebounds and a pair of assists.
Horford finished right behind Tatum with 26 points, seven boards and four assists.
The C’s leading scorer with 29, Rozier III went 7-for-9 from deep, and added in eight rebounds, six assists and two steals.
Marcus Morris dropped 11 off the bench with five rebounds.
The 76ers out-rebounded the Celtics 45-to-36, with Embiid leading the way with a team-high 31-point, 13-rebound double-double.
Rookie Ben Simmons filled the stat sheet for the Sixers with 18 points, seven boards and six assists.
UP NEXT: The #2 Boston Celtics (55-27/1-0) will welcome the #3 Philadelphia 76ers (52-30/0-1) to the TD Garden on Thursday night for Game 2 of the Semifinals in the NBA Playoffs. Catch the call of the game with Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell, live on 98.5 The Sports Hub. Pre-game coverage begins at 8:00 p.m., with tip-off set for 8:30 p.m.
— By John ‘The Dude’ Hardiman, 985TheSportsHub.com
John Hardiman is a Digital Producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for John? Hit him up on Twitter @HardiDude or e-mail him at email@example.com.
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