Despite the close back-and-forth win on Monday, the big storyline after the Celtics game 1 win was the fourth quarter Grade III ankle sprain suffered by Gordon Hayward. With Gordon now slated for around 4 weeks on the sidelines, Brad Stevens rolled with Marcus Smart from the tip.
Boston, in the trademark Kelly green uniforms looked to Jayson Tatum on the opening possession to create separation in the corner to hit on his first three-pointer as he picked up where he left off in Game 1. As in the first game Joel Embiid and Philly attacked the paint and the big man hit on his first 3 shots as the 76ers jumped out to a quick lead.
Jayson Tatum kept the Philly D honest as he weaved expertly through the key to drop a tasty floater over the outstretched 7-foot Embiid.
weavin through the defense for two pic.twitter.com/BUonIt2dkr— Boston Celtics (@celtics) August 19, 2020
Despite the great early play of Tatum, Boston started off slow once more and at the halfway mark of the first quarter Brad Stevens inserted Semi Ojeleye as the first man off the bench, however Ojeleye was quickly benched in favour off Grant Williams to counter the Philly length and Grant obliged hitting on his first three-pointer and early activity on the boards.
Boston’s trademark help defending and perimeter ball hawking in game one was noticeably absent to start this one. Philly was scorching hot behind Embiid who got up 13 first quarter points, as a team the 76ers would shoot a blistering 60 percent from the field, whilst giving up only one turnover.
Consecutive Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum triples somehow made the scoreline respectable as the quarter expired. The late quarter rally was spearheaded by a shot clock beating long-ranger from Jayson Tatum as the quarter would end 27-33, Philly up, as Boston would be lucky to be down only 6.
Into the 2nd quarter and enter Enes Kanter. Kanter would prove to be a bit of a spark as he hit a rare three pointer and then immediately led Embiid down the court where he hit two points on the low block. Tatum continued the offensive push punctuating a 29-11 run as the Celtics wrestled the lead from the 76ers behind his 18 first-half points on 5-6 from three.
Boston markedly ramped up the intensity in the second quarter as Philly-Bull Brad Wanamaker and Marcus Smart traded blows with the Philly backcourt. Brad Stevens threw in the trademark small ball Celtics lineup in the second quarter with Langford, Wanamaker highlighting some good stretches of play alongside Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker as Tatum got some rest.
Even with Tatum on the bench, the Celtics extended the lead into double digits as the defensive intensity paid dividends for the Celtics 65-57 at the half.
The Celtics starters continued to keep up the defensive intensity on Philly as the second half started. The injection of Marcus Smart proved ciritcal as the OSU product was darting across the court and closing out with multiple efforts. Tobias Harris, Al Horford and Matisse Thybulle contributed only 9 points combined in the first half as Boston looked to punish Philly on every missed basket. Jaylen Brown was the beneficiary of a wonderful outlet pass from Jayson Tatum as Brown skied for the rotational jam on the solo breakaway.
The Celtics continued to push and pressure the 76ers as the third quarter came to a close, it was pretty much the ball game as Boston hit on 98 points to the Sixers 75. Philly could only hope to keep it respectful into the fourth, however a fresh Enes Kanter made Embiid work on both ends before Philly eventually raised the white flag early subbing everyone out.
Jayson Tatum would lead the Celtics with a brilliant game hitting on 8 from 12 three-pointers on his way to 33 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds. Jaylen Brown was solid as ever with 20 points and Kemba Walker had a great game 22 points, 4 rebounds and 5-5 from the FT line. The trio were outstanding logging 75 points between them.
Marcus Smart (10 points, 4 rebs) was a lynchpin on D tonight and the bench effort was a nice storyline for Boston. Brad Wanamaker had 7 points + 4 asts, Big man Enes Kanter was great with 10 points, 9 rebs whilst Grant Williams had a really nice game with 9 points and 6 rebs. All three provided excellent support to the starters as Boston dominated for a second win in the series.
Game 3 is scheduled for Friday 6:30pm EST.