BOSTON — The second round is off to a swell start for the Boston Celtics.
In Game 1 of their second-round NBA playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers, the C’s cruised to a 117-101 victory at TD Garden on Monday night.
Terry Rozier led Celtics scorers with 29 points. Jayson Tatum (28), Al Horford (26) and Marcus Morris (11) also tallied double digits. Joel Embiid was one of five Sixers in double figures, registering a game-high 31 points.
The Celtics earned the victory without one of their top performers this postseason, Jaylen Brown, who was ruled out shortly before the game due to a right hamstring strain sustained in Game 1.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Terry Rozier
SG: Marcus Smart
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Al Horford
C: Aron Baynes
Both teams strung together some quality possessions in the latter part of the first period, with the Celtics ending the first 12 minutes ahead 25-22.
A good portion of the quarter was spent with the two sides playing fairly even, but with the Celtics up by one and four minutes left in the frame, they heated up and created some separation. Boston went on a 7-0 run over 48 seconds to go ahead by eight. But in the final minutes, the Sixers cut into Boston’s advantage, scoring nine of the final 13 points.
The Celtics struggled with some defensive breakdowns early, leading to plenty of wide-open looks for the Sixers. Philly struggled to capitalize on those chances, however, which allowed the game to stay tight.
Rozier had a game-high 10 first-quarter points.
C’S OPEN IT UP
After a close first few minutes of the second quarter, the Celtics opened the game up as they went into the half with a 56-45 lead.
The most important stretch of the half came with the game locked at 33 with just under seven minutes to go. The Celtics strung together a 10-0 run over 2:17 to give themselves the biggest advantage of the game to that point, with Horford being responsible for eight of the 10 points during that stretch.
Embiid became more of an issue for the Celtics in the second, as the 76ers fed the star big man the ball in the paint more frequently. Aron Baynes nor Horford could body Embiid in the paint as he finished the quarter with eight points on 3-for-7 shooting.
Tatum went into the half with a game-high 16 points.
Like most stages of the game the majority of the third was a fairly even affair, with the C’s going into the fourth ahead 87-75 after outscoring Philly 31-30 in the third.
Both teams had a few opportunities to build a little bit of a run, but each time it was countered with a timely shot or series of possessions to keep things level. In keeping things even, it allowed the Celtics to continue leading comfortably with the advantage they built in the first half, with their lead never remotely being jeopardized in the quarter.
J.J. Reddick did give the Sixers a slight boost at the end of the frame, however, knocking down a pair of treys in the final 31 seconds to cut Boston’s lead down to 12 heading into the final quarter.
Embiid had 11 points in the third, trailed by Smart and Horford with nine apiece.
BOSTON CLOSES THE DOOR
Boston’s lead never was in doubt in the fourth, as the Celtics outscored the Sixers 30-26 in the fourth quarter to seal the deal.
The theme from the third quarter bled into the fourth, as the Sixers never really showed enough fight to allow them to make a push at wiping the Celtics’ lead. That was made equally difficult by the fact that Boston continued to hit important shots and playing tight defense, never allowing Philly to build any sort of momentum.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT
Impressive move and impressive finish.
The two teams will meet for Game 2 on Thursday night. Tip from TD Garden is set for 8:30 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images