Jaylen Brown used his public platform to deliver a clear message to Celtics fans ahead of Sunday afternoon’s game. TD Garden’s energy for the team’s home games during the NBA. He said the Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Philadelphia 76ers was fine.
On Sunday, the Browns got what they wanted in Game 7. It was early noise and late noise. The crowd cheered for every dunk and 3-pointer, every defensive stop and offensive rebound.
When Boston’s Jayson Tatum stood near center circle late in the fourth quarter, in a moment when a tour de force and the best game of his career was winding down, he gestured to the fans for more noise. They were ready to do their duty.
The crowd was still cheering when the Celtics went off the court 112–88 to clinch the best-of-seven tie, with confidence that Boston’s championship dream would live on.
First-Team All-NBA It was a surprise to score 51 points on Sunday, choosing not to play impeccable basketball during the series. Game 7 record. Brown added 25 points in the win. The Celtics are led by 30 players.
“When I’m at my best, that’s when I have fun,” Tatum says. “Go out, relax, and Y.M.C.A. or whatever opens the game.
A crushing loss would certainly spell uncertainty for the third-seeded 76ers, who had title hopes of their own. But Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, who recently received his first NBA Most Valuable Player Award, struggled in Game 7 to finish with only 15 points while shooting 5 of 18 from the field. Sixers guard James Harden scored just 9 points.
Embiid said of the Celtics, “They’re the best team in the league.” “They have a lot of players who are very talented and can play great basketball. After losing seven games to them, I thought we worked hard.”
The Celtics, formerly the second seed in the East, failed to win the match in the third quarter with Brown and Tatum making consecutive 3-point shots. The fourth quarter was a party as the final leg of an intense playoff series.
“JT Brown said of Tatum.
In the process, the Celtics get a chance to face the eighth-seeded Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals starting Wednesday in Boston. After surviving the play-in bracket, the Heat ousted the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the first round and then swept the Knicks in six games in the conference semifinal series. Boston defeated the seventh-seeded Atlanta Hawks in six games in the first round.
The Heat has a star named Jimmy Butler. Jimmy Butler seems to be leveling his game season after season with each passing year.
Sure, the Celtics have an explosive star in Tatum, but he struggled against the 76ers. On Sunday he was the best player in the building. He shot 17 of 28 from the field and 6 of 10 from the 3-point line and finished with 13 rebounds and five assists.
“We’re just dealing with the ups and downs of the series.” said Celtics coach Joe Majula. “Emotionally we were never too high or too low. We were able to maintain our emotional bond.
The missed opportunities will haunt the 76ers, who took a 3-2 series lead with Thursday’s shutout at home. In that game, Tatum missed 13 of his first 14 field goal attempts. However, the Celtics were solid defensively and Tatum led a late comeback to extend the series with a 95–86 victory.
Tatum said, “To be honest, they put us on the ropes. And we were relieved because our season could be over.”
Game 7 is obviously important, but it looks like both teams have a lot at stake in this Game 7. For the Celtics, a loss would have meant a complete forfeiture of everything they had accomplished the previous season upon entering the NBA. In the Finals, they lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games.
However, progress has rarely been linear, and the Celtics have faced an unusually rough road this season. An unexpected coaching change before the start of training camp, a season-ending injury to Danilo Gallinari, and an unrecognized defense whooped before he had even played.
For the 76ers, Sunday’s game, fair or not, won the 2014 N.B.A. Format. But now it was time for the deep playoffs.
Sixers coach Doc Rivers felt the pressure before the game and gauged the importance of pushing his key players “as tired as possible”.
Embiid spent the final minutes quietly before dribbling the tip near the halfcourt circle. He also took some virtual shots before passing the ball. His teammate Tyrese Maxi.
The rest of the afternoon was bleak for Embiid. Harden was bad somehow. The 76ers have now made six straight playoff appearances without advancing to the Conference Finals.
“I thought James came for the game, but he did,” Rivers said, referring to Harden. “I thought he was going to watch the game, I thought he was riding a lot of downs. Where he passed the ball tonight was the right decision and we got nothing from it.
The series was full of uneven performances. At the top of that list was Harden, who scored 45 points in Game 1 and then promptly disappeared, shooting 5 of 28 from the field to record a pair of losses. He appeared again in Game 4, scoring 42 points, but was again under-represented in Games 5 and 6. So the question is, which version of Harden will appear in Game 7?
He was having labor pains early in the second quarter, when he appeared to miss the ball while attempting a layup. Floating in the air, Harden landed an elbow that caught Brown’s face.
“There’s nothing like getting shot in the face to wake you up immediately,” Brown said.
Harden was whistled for an apparent foul. Brown made both free throws, then Tatum sank Robert Williams. Rivers cited the apparent foul as the turning point.
“After that, we never played well again,” Rivers said.
The Celtics continued to run when Brown, who was playing with a cotton swab, pinched off his left nostril to stop the bleeding from the collision with Harden, collapsing in front of the opposing bench. As Brown gathered and ran to the front of the court, George Niang of the 76ers reached out from a folding chair and grabbed Brown’s left leg.
Brown yelled at Niang and both players received technical fouls. At that point, Boston was effectively behind. But the fans were loud and the Celtics let them be.