The Philadelphia 76ers visited Boston Saturday night for the final matchup between the two teams on the season. Both teams came to play as the early going was frenetic with Ben Simmons pacing Philly and for the Cs Jayson Tatum (25pts, 3-5 from three) and Jaylen Brown (32pts, 9rebs) were interchanging on the offensive attack. Newly minted All Star Jayson Tatum attacked former teammate Al Horford on the break with zero hesitation.
Tatum was flat out dominating the early going in this one, as he look intent on proving once and for all, he is worthy of that first time all star selection. This ridiculous thrown down over a helpless Al Horford got TD Garden up and moving as the Celtics jumped out to an early double digit lead in the first quarter.
Injuries have been a constant factor for Boston this season with All Star starting PG Kemba Walker, Enes Kanter and Robert Williams all unavailable. The big story coming into the game was the availability of Boston’s frontcourt depth to match up with Joel Embiid. It’s always going to be a team effort to scheme against Embiid, but with Philly shooting woefully, Brad Wanamaker and co. looked to run Embiid and Philly off the court.
The eastern conference 6th seed is only 9-16 on the road to start the season, and it showed as Philly a lack of cohesion throughout the opening quarter and a half. Philly steadied behind the great individual play of Simmons as they scrapped into the game and got it back to 8 points at the half, 59-51.
Rolling into the second half Boston regained the intensity and defensive pressure. Al Horford shot a pair of unsuccessful threes and registered his 4th foul and went to the bench. Gordon Hayward finally hit a field goal with 7 minutes to go in the third quarter. The shortened bench rotation of Semi, Grant and Brad was really composed throughout this one, as was stalwart defensive savant Marcus Smart. He was not forcing anything offensively either and midway in the third as Boston stretched a lead, he did a sweet move past Al Horford for the easy cradle outstretched layin. As he ran back down the court, Marcus patted Big Al on the behind.
It was AIR JAYLEN to round out the third quarter as JB took off with a clear runway and a designated landing spot. This pump dunk against the scattered Philly defenders, was punctuated by Joel Embiid retreating in the opposite direction.
The fourth quarter kept the highlights rolling as Marcus Smart (16pts) hit a crazy high arching, floating turnaround jumper over Al Horford. With Philly waiving the white flag late in the game, Brad Stevens inserted Tacko Fall, who got a rousing reception by the TD Garden faithful. This was over after three quarters folks, as Boston next face Atlanta, Monday night.