NBA

Celtics Gut Out Ugly Game 6 Win 95-86, Force Game 7

In the worst game of his career, the Celtics’ best player finally answered the call when his team needed him the most.

The Boston Celtics defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 95-86, tying the series 3-3. In a win or go home game, the team put together one of its most disjointed performances on both ends of the floor. Still, they managed to survive thanks to huge contributions from role players on offense and a 4th quarter where Jayson Tatum singlehandedly outscored Philadelphia 16-13.

For about 20 of the 24 second half minutes, the Sixers were the ones in control. Though the score didn’t necessarily reflect it, they climbed out of two separate early deficits, forced 17 Boston turnovers, and showed much more heart. Then, the 1-14 Tatum scored 8 straight points — including two step back threes — which put the Sixers on their heels. From there, the Celtics began to roll to victory, miraculously forcing Game 7 after they truly looked dead earlier in the quarter.

It’s unfair to give this much credit to Tatum though when other Celtics were the ones keeping them in the game. Marcus Smart had a fantastic game, leading the team with 22 points and 7 assists. Malcolm Brogdon also had a nice bounce back, recording 16 points on 54.2% from the field. They seemed to always be the ones hitting big shots for most of the night before Tatum found his groove.

The Celtics just dealt with back-to-back tough losses, but none compare to the loss the 76ers just experienced. They fought so hard for 44 minutes, but only put up 3 points in the final four minutes of regulation (2 points coming in garbage time). That was visible too — with just under two minutes left, James Harden and Joel Embiid were sulking while the Celtics moved the ball in transition.

Embiid and Tyrese Maxey were the ones filling the stat sheet, each ending with 26 points. Harden struggled shooting, recording 13 points on 4-16 from the field.

It’s hard to know where things stand before Game 7. Both Celtics and Sixers fans certainly have reason for concern. On one hand, the Celtics just put up a postseason-low in points, postseason-high in turnovers, and saw their two star players minimally impact the game for 44 minutes. On the other, the Sixers somehow ended up on the losing end of that, and need to shake off any feelings of demoralization before a win or go home game in Boston.

This outcome wasn’t pretty for anyone involved, but one thing’s for certain: Game 7 should be a wild ride.

Henry Bova

Henry is a journalism student at Northeastern University covering the Celtics and Patriots for CLNS.

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