BOSTON — For roughly the first 20 minutes of Thursday’s game at TD Garden, the Boston Celtics looked like they didn’t belong on the same floor as the Philadelphia 76ers.
Then, as they’ve done so often this season, the Celtics flipped the script.
Utilizing a dramatic 52-27 run between the second and third quarters, Boston edged Philly 108-103 to win Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Celtics now hold a 2-0 lead heading into Saturday’s Game 3 in Philadelphia.
The Celtics were paced by Jayson Tatum (21 points) and Terry Rozier (19 points). Jaylen Brown, who missed Game 1 with a hamstring injury, came off the bench to score 13 points.
As for the Sixers, they were led by J.J. Redick, who scored 23 points, and Robert Covington, who netted 22 in the loss. Rookie star Ben Simmons was virtually non-existent, scoring just one point in 31 minutes.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Terry Rozier
SG: Marcus Smart
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Al Horford
C: Aron Baynes
As hot as the Celtics were in Game 1 on Monday, they were just as cold to begin Game 2.
Boston didn’t score until 8:37 of the first quarter, as Philly jumped out to an 8-0 lead, with all eight points coming from Redick. Prior to the game, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said Marcus Smart would “have his hands full” chasing Redick around, and he wasn’t joking.
From the Celtics’ perspective, the highlight of the first quarter came when Brown returned to a massive ovation from the TD Garden crowd. After missing a 3-pointer on his first possession, the sophomore guard responded by flushing a breakaway dunk moments later.
Boston eventually found its stride in the first frame, but ultimately closed the quarter trailing Philly 31-22.
Redick led all scorers with 13 first-quarter points, while Tatum paced the C’s with five points.
PHILLY GOES UP HUGE … THEN BOSTON EXPLODES
The second frame really was the worst of times then the best of times for Boston.
Philly dominated play for much of the second quarter, holding leads of 20-plus points multiple times. To say the Sixers were hot from beyond the arc would be a huge understatement.
For roughly the first six minutes of the quarter, the Sixers looked as if they would run Boston out of the Garden.
Philly led 48-26 with 6:42 remaining. Then Boston ripped off a 25-8 run to close the lead to 56-51 at halftime. Seemingly everyone had their moment during the spirited run, which Brown capped with an alley-oop dunk.
Smart led the Celtics at the half with 13 points, including 3-for-3 from long distance.
CELTICS STAY HOT
Boston built off its scorching finish to the first half by coming out just as hot in the third quarter.
With 7:45 remaining in the quarter, Aron Baynes drilled a 3-pointer to give Boston its first lead of the game at 64-63. Thanks to a 52-27 run that began midway through the second quarter, the Celtics finished the third with a 79-75 lead.
Tatum was instrumental in the third, leading the Celtics with 10 points.
Smart (18 points) and Tatum (15 points) were the Celtics’ leading scorers through three quarters.
BOSTON SEALS IT
The Sixers, to their credit, didn’t lay down in the fourth quarter. The Celtics, however, simply weren’t going to lose.
For much of the frame, the two teams exchanged blows, as well as the lead.
At one point in the final quarter, the Celtics trailed 93-88, with the Sixers seemingly regaining control of the game. Boston went on a 15-4 run from there, punctuated by a Rozier-Tatum alley-oop with 3:06 left.
Philly pulled to within three with under 30 seconds remaining, but Al Horford drove by Embiid and scored a layup with 8.3 left to seal the victory.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT
Charles Barkley didn’t hold back on his assessment of the Sixers at halftime.
The two teams will meet for Game 3 on Saturday night. Tipoff from Wells Fargo Center is set for 5 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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