BOSTON — The Celtics ripped the heart out of the Sixers once again.
Reprising their epic 22-point comeback on Jan. 11 in London, Jayson Tatum led six Celtics in double figures with 21 points, Terry Rozier scored 20 and Al Horford’s layup with 8.3 seconds sealed the victory as the Celtics beat the Sixers, 108-103, Thursday night at TD Garden. The Celtics lead the series 2-0 with Game 3 set for Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia. Game 4 will be Monday afternoon, also in Philadelphia.
Jaylen Brown returned from a sore right hamstring and added great energy, monster dunks and 13 points. Ben Simmons was a complete non-factor, with one free throw, five rebounds and seven assists.
Click here for a full box score.
From the very start, this was a Sixers team out to prove what coach Brett Brown said before Game 2. “What you saw the other night wasn’t the Philadelphia 76ers.”
Thanks to JJ Redick, they made Brown a much happier and prophetic coach. Redick scored the game’s first eight points, including a pair of threes. As a matter of fact, as atrocious as Philadelphia was in Game 1 from 3-point range (5-for-26), they were blazing hot in the first half, converting 7-of-11 from beyond the arc.
The Sixers were getting perimeter scorer from all over as they built their lead to 22, 48-26 on a Robert Covington three with 6:41 left in the second quarter. The Sixers were dominating on the glass, outrebounding the Celtics 20-10 at one point and 10-1 on the offensive glass.
But with a chance to extend the lead even more, they couldn’t as Joel Embiid missed six layups and Ben Simmons was a non-factor.
Then the game, like it did in London on Jan. 12 when the Sixers also had a 22-point lead in the first half, turned on a dime as the Sixers got sloppy and three-happy. Just as was the case overseas, the end of the first half was a Celtic wave of momentum. The Celtics cut the lead down to 12 in the space of four minutes as Philadelphia got very sloppy and starting jacking up threes in transition.
Terry Rozier’s three with 1:38 left in the first half cut the deficit to 10, 54-44. Marcus Smart hit a three with 52.6 seconds left to cut the lead to single digits.
By the time Jaylen Brown, returning from his right hamstring injury, finished a fast break with a slam, the Garden was in pandemonium and the 17-3 run to end the half cut Philadelphia’s lead to five, 56-51. Brown had a 3-pointer, two dunks, eight points and three rebounds in his return.
Brown caps off a huge Boston run with the alley-oop slam! pic.twitter.com/gMlc13foJk
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) May 4, 2018
Smart’s three to open the third cut the lead to two, 56-54 before Redick responded with a jumper. When Aron Baynes’ three hit the rim bounced up and fell in with 7:44 left, the Celtics had their first lead at 64-63.
When Jaylen Brown’s three found the bottom of the net with 3:57 left, the Celtics lead was up to six, 72-66. With 2:25 left in the third, Jayson Tatum went baseline for a one-handed tomahawk slam to make it 76-68, capping a 50-20 run.
With the Celtics leading 79-72, Joel Embiid drained a runner and was fouled with 38.8 seconds left to cut the deficit to four, 79-75 heading into the fourth. T.J. McConnell converted two layups to open the fourth and the game was tied again, 79-79.
The Sixers briefly recaptured the lead 82-81 on a Robert Covington three but the Celtics scored the next five, highlighted by a 2-handed slam from Brown, who was limping a bit after he landed with 9:03 left in the fourth and the Celtics lead up to 86-82. Redick came off a screen and drained a three with 8:44 left to cut Boston’s lead to one, 86-85.
Joel Embiid drained a straightaway three with 7:42 remaining for an 88-86 Philly lead. But Tatum came right back with two free throws to tie game. Covington nailed his fourth three for a 91-88 lead with 6:59 remaining. The Sixers extended to a five-point lead when Ersan Ilyasova cut back door for a layup with 5:48 left. Rozier drained a three to make it 93-91 with 5:29 remaining. Horford hit two free throws with 4:54 left to tie the game again at 93-93.
Marcus Morris grabbed a huge offensive rebound off a Marcus Smart missed three and hit a triple of his own with 4:13 left and the Celtics led again, 96-95. Horford found Terry Rozier for a three with 3:35 left and it was 99-95 Boston.
Rozier found Tatum on a spectacular alley oop pass for a dunk that put Boston up, 103-97.