By John ‘The Dude’ Hardiman, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Boston Celtics have a chance to take care of business on Monday night as they head into Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals with a 3-0 series lead over the Philadelphia 76ers.
Boston has been able to jump out to a commanding three-game lead thanks in part to their new “Big 3.”
Forget Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.
It’s the Terry Rozier III, Jayson Tatum and Horford show.
Plus throw in Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris, and we have ourselves a “Sizzlin’ Six.”
Tatum has been simply unstoppable in semi-final this series.
Green Teamers all over the world are sitting here watching this rookie sensation grow into a SUPER STAR right before our eyes, while reinforcing why the Celtics moved down two spots in the draft to acquire him and some additional assets.
Through three games, Tatum is averaging a series-high 24.3 points on an impressive 55.3 percent shooting from the field and 30.8 percent from three. In addition to grabbing 3.3 rebounds and dishing out 2.7 assists, all while playing 38.1 minutes-per-game.
Rozier, who’s the second member of the new “Big 3” has morphed into “Scary Terry” more times than the 76ers would like, but hey that’s how it goes when you have someone who can flip a switch and change into a dominate player on both ends of the floor.
The 6-foot-2 guard out of Louisville is averaging 22.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, six assists and 1.7 steals through three games, while shooting 50 percent from both the field and from three in a whopping 39.1 minutes-per-game.
And for the record, Rozier is shooting more than 10 percentage points better from the field through the three games in comparison to his season average.
Lastly the leader of the new “Big 3,” the “X-Factor,” Al Horford, is averaging 17.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists, plus one block and one steal in 37.2 minutes-per-game so far through the semis. He’s also shooting a favorable 60.6 percent from the field, while shooting 28.6 percent from three.
Then we add in Brown, Morris and Smart’s combined 37.1 points and 15.8 rebounds, plus their tenacious defense, and we have a perfect storm.
The Celtics’ defensive efforts in this series can’t go unnoticed.
Sure guys like Joel Embiid and J.J. Redick are going to get their looks, but the C’s have done a solid job of containing the Sixers’ other shooters, while trying to limit second chance opportunities and wide-open looks.
Embiid has been leading the way, as expected, with a 24-point, 15-rebound double-double average for the series.
Embiid’s also dishing out four assists a night, while shooting 43.5 percent from the field and a miserable 25 percent from three in 37.7 minutes-per-game.
The pesky, sharp-shooting Redick has nailed some ridiculous shots with countless amounts of hands in his face all throughout this series. Like there will be two sets of hands right in his grill, and guess what? This dude nails a three ball through traffic like it’s nothing. You have to admit that it’s kind of impressive.
Now through three games, Redick is averaging 20.3 points on 48.9 percent shooting from the field and 41.7 percent from three.
Oh and we can’t forget the basically invisible Ben Simmons, who only scored a single point in the Sixers’ Game 2 loss.
Otherwise, Simmons is looking at 9.5 points-per-game on 40 percent shooting from the field, while adding in six rebounds and 6.5 assists. And by the way, he’s shooting a big, fat zero percent from deep.
And one more thing on Simmons. So this guy was in the conversation for ‘Rookie of the Year’ for a good portion of the season and now he can’t be found. So spare me on that one cause it should be either Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz or Tatum. Plain and simple. But that’s a story for another day.
The Celtics have been able to jump out to a three-game series lead thanks to shooting better than 45 percent from the field in all three games, while the 76ers haven’t shot better than 43.5 percent in any of three games.
With the Celtics shooting fairly well, the points have been adding up quickly as they’ve been able to beat the Sixers by a margin of eight points-per-game.
Boston has shot better than the 76ers from beyond the arc and the free throw line in 2-out-of-3 of the games.
But the Sixers, as expected, have out-rebounded the Celtics in every game by an average of seven boards.
Philly calls themselves “The City of Brotherly Love.” It’s more like “The City of Turnovers.”
The Sixers have struggled to take care of the basketball, while the Celtics are averaging 2.3 less turnovers than them so far through the series.
If the C’s can continue to take care of the ball, while knocking down shots at a decent clip and maintaining their high level of play of the defensive end, they should complete the sweep to send them to Eastern Conference Finals, where chances are they’ll meet LeBron James and Cleveland Cavaliers.
UP NEXT: The #2 Boston Celtics (55-27/3-0) will stay in Philly to play Game 4 of Eastern Conference Semifinals against the #3 Philadelphia 76ers (52-30/0-3) on Monday night. Catch the call of the game with Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell, live on 98.5 The Sports Hub. Pre-game coverage begins at 5:30 p.m., with tip-off set for 6:00 p.m.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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