Celtics Wrap: James Harden Erupts, 76ers Steal Game 1 From Boston

The 76ers strike first


May 1, 2023

BOSTON — The Celtics began their second-round matchup in gut-wrenching fashion, falling to the 76ers, 119-115, in Game 1 on Monday night at TD Garden.

With the loss, Philadelphia takes a 1-0 series lead over Boston.

Check out the full box score here.

The 76ers had no Joel Embiid to rely on, but that didn’t matter.

With an NBA MVP candidate sidelined, Philadelphia turned to a former league MVP in James Harden to keep Game 1 as competitive as possible while the 76ers weather the storm of Embiid’s absence. Harden went toe-to-toe with Jayson Tatum, making for an electric series-opening battle.

While the score wasn’t indicative of it, it seemed as though the Celtics had control for the better part of three quarters considering how easily they were able to generate offense and exploit holes in Philadelphia’s defense. But the 76ers stuck around and refused to go down easy, fighting until the very end.

Marcus Smart came through with some timely heroics, drawing two crucial fouls while also completing a pair of crunch-time 3-point plays to build some much-needed separation from Philadelphia. However, it proved to not matter as the Celtics committed a bone-headed turnover, which the 76ers made Boston pay for.

Harden delivered the game-deciding blow, netting a highly-contested 3-pointer with Al Horford right in front of him.

With the loss, the C’s extend Boston’s losing streak — combined with the Bruins — to five straight games at TD Garden.

— Harden was elite, scoring a game-leading 45 points, which tied a new career-high in the playoffs for the veteran. He shot 17-of-30 from the field while knocking down seven 3-point attempts and dishing out six assists.

— Tatum led Boston’s charge, finishing with 39 points on 14-of-25 shooting, 11 rebounds and five assists. The elite performance gave Tatum his 25th career playoff double-double.

— Malcolm Brogdon provided starter-level production coming off the bench, delivering 20 points while going 9-of-16 from the field with three rebounds and three assists.

Tatum was red-hot to begin the night from beyond the arc. FanDuel Sportsbook set the over/under of Tatum’s 3-point total at 3.5 with +114 odds on the Over. In dropping 26 points in the first half, Tatum went 4-for-4 from 3-point territory, clearing those odds easily. A $100 wager placed on Tatum would’ve netted a $214 total payout.

The Celtics will look to defend their home floor in better fashion for Game 2 against the 76ers on Wednesday night at TD Garden. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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