The Celtics massacre the 76ers in Game 7 to move on to the Eastern Conference Finals

Jayson Tatum’s record-breaking performance was too much for the Philadelphia 76ers as the Road to Banner 18 continues for the Boston Celtics as they look to finish what they started.


By the process of elimination, the Boston Celtics have eliminated the Philadelphia 76ers by a score of 112-88 in seven games to move on to the Eastern Conference Finals. 

“I’m humbly, I’m one of the best basketball players in the world,” forward Jayson Tatum said after the Celtics won Game 6 in Philadelphia.

Tatum backed up that statement with a 51-piece along with a team-leading 13 rebounds and five assists as a nice aside. After starting almost every game abysmally in this series, Tatum took the bull by the horns and came out firing. 

Tatum set the tone early for the Celtics offense with an emphatic dunk after crossing over Sixers center Joel Embiid. However, it would be the Sixers who would have most of the control of the first quarter. The Sixers defense forced the Celtics to turn the ball over twice and had three blocks in the first.

The Sixers carried this momentum starting the second quarter getting to the free throw line for a nine-point lead, their biggest of the game. The turning point in this quarter was when Sixers guard James Harden’s elbow hit Celtics guard Jaylen Brown in the face while going for a layup. Harden was charged with a flagrant 1 foul that saw Brown go two of two from the line. 

“Nothing like a shot to the face to wake you right up,” Brown said in his postgame interview about being hit by Harden.

Brown’s aggressiveness on offense and defense saw the lead go down two and forced Sixers coach Doc Rivers to call a timeout. Tensions would flare after the Celtics took the lead when Sixers forward Georges Niang grabbed Brown’s leg to stop him from moving up the court. 

At first, Brown was called for a technical foul for taunting, but after replayed review, it was called a double technical foul on both Niang and Brown. An unfortunate call for Brown, as he was the one being grabbed and was justified to talk back to the Sixers bench.

Both teams would go back and forth trading baskets, but it was Tatum’s three near the end of the second quarter that would give the Celtics a three-point lead heading to the half. 

The second half was utter Celtics domination. The Celtics outscored the Sixers 33-10 in the third starting the quarter on a 24-6 run. Tatum was the orchestrator of the 24-6 run, scoring 17 points in the third and making four three-pointers. Especially, when picked on Embiid in the pick-and-roll action the Celtics did a lot of damage in the second half. Embiid was taken away from the paint having to guard at the top of the key making it easier to score in the paint and created mismatches for the Celtics to get their shots off. On the defensive side, Tatum was effective as well by helping double Embiid and forcing the Sixers to take tough shots.

The Celtics’ defense neutered the Sixers duo of Embiid and Harden by being aggressive on them and playing their bodies hard. The duo went a combined two of nine from the field and only scored five of the Sixers 36 points in the second half. So much, for the league-leading players in scoring and assisting. 

At one point in the third quarter, the Sixers went scoreless for a total of six minutes and 20 seconds. The Sixers puked all over themselves when it mattered the most. This loss now makes it four straight Game 7 losses in a row for the Sixers and adds to their 22-year drought of playing in an Eastern Conference Final. 

For Tatum, his 51 points are now a franchise and NBA record for the most points scored in a Game 7. He surpassed Warriors guard Stephen Curry, who set the record in these playoffs with 50 against the Sacramento Kings. Tatum was just three points shy of tying the Celtics franchise record of most points in an NBA playoffs game of 54 set by Celtics legend John Havilcek.

After all the criticism of being a superstar and a guy who can step up for his team Tatum has shut up those critics for now. He talked the talk and walked the walk displaying another masterclass performance in the playoffs. This is Tatum’s second time scoring 50 in the playoffs with the first being against the Brooklyn Nets in 2021. 

“Today I was more myself. … That’s when I play my best is when I’m having fun,” Tatum said in his postgame interview after Game 7.

For the Celtics, it will be back-to-back trips to the Eastern Conference Finals and their fifth appearance in the last 10 years. They’ll be facing a familiar foe in the Miami Heat. This will be the third time in four years that the two teams will meet to see which team will represent the eastern conference in the NBA Finals. 

Once again, it will not come easy for the Celtics, as this Heat team fights for every possession. After securing the eighth seed in the playoffs, the Heat upset the number one seed Milwaukee Bucks in five games and cruised past the New York Knick in six games. 

Led by star forward Jimmy Butler, the Heat is no cakewalk and will be a tough out for the Celtics. They play hard and intense basketball. Of the four remaining teams in the playoffs, the Heat are tied for first in steals. They are also tied for first in defensive rating and average the most points off turnovers in the playoffs. Most of all, they play with a lot of heart, and the Heat Culture coach Erik Spoelstra is building is working.

If the Celtics want to get back to the Finals and finish what they started the duo of Tatum and Brown will have to play to their capabilities and bring this team to glory.

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