The Boston Celtics didn’t take the conventional route, but they managed to make their trip across the pond a successful one.
After trailing by as many as 22 in the first half against the Philadelphia 76ers, the Celtics responded with a monster second half to earn a 114-103 win at The O2 Arena in London, England.
Boston received strong performances from a blend of star and role players. Jaylen Brown led the way with 21 points, while Kyrie Irving (20 points, seven assists, six rebounds), Marcus Morris (19 points, eight rebounds), Jayson Tatum (16 points) and Al Horford (13 points, eight rebounds, seven assists) also scored in double figures.
Philly had five players score in double figures, paced by J.J. Redick’s 22 points, but it wasn’t enough to top its Atlantic Division rival.
With the win, the Celtics improve to 34-10, while the 76ers fall to 19-20.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Al Horford
C: Aron Baynes
LAZY IN LONDON
The Celtics didn’t have much flair in the first quarter, and it showed in their play. In fact, Boston didn’t score its first points of the game until an Irving layup at the 9:08 mark. The C’s coughed the ball up four times in the opening 12 minutes and shot a mediocre 42 percent from the field, allowing the 76ers to take a 28-23 lead into the second quarter. The only player to really shine in the first frame was Redick, who posted 13 points, including a 3-for-4 mark from beyond the arc. Morris led Boston with seven first-quarter points, while Baynes wasn’t far behind with six.
Things got worse before they got better for the Celtics in the second, as the 76ers went on a 21-4 run to open the quarter, swelling their lead to 22. But Boston hung tough and closed the frame on a 15-3 run of its own, cutting the deficit at the break to 57-48. Brown was the man for the C’s in the second, pacing the team with 10 points in the quarter. Irving had a fine frame himself, scoring seven points to go along with three rebounds and three assists. Both teams were rather careless with the basketball in the first half, though, combining for 17 turnovers.
Overcoming large deficits has been a theme for the Celtics this season, and they managed to do it yet again against the Sixers. Boston came out firing in the third quarter and took its first lead of the game on a Daniel Theis dunk with six minutes remaining in the frame. The teams would trade baskets for the remainder of the quarter, but Boston maintained the lead, taking an 85-79 advantage into the final quarter.
After being limited to only two first-half points, Tatum finally came alive, scoring 11 points in the third. Irving continued his strong game with six third-quarter points, while Brown marched on with five.
FOOT ON THE GAS
The 76ers still were well within striking distance entering the final quarter, but the Celtics quickly squashed any chances of Philly regaining the lead. Boston employed stifling defense in the final 12 minutes, limiting the Sixers to 24 points in the quarter. The Celtics’ big men powered the offense in the fourth, as Morris chipped in seven points while Horford added six.
PLAY OF THE GAME
The court vision from Irving.
The Celtics will have four days off before returning to action Tuesday against the New Orleans Pelicans. Tip-off from TD Garden is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports
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