NBA: Harden and a gift from the Celtics allow the 76ers to get ahead despite the loss of Embiid | Sports

NBA Playoffs – playoffs – working day twenty

boston celtics

boston celtics
Philadelphia 76ers

Philadelphia 76ers

There was less than a minute left. The Celtics were ahead on the scoreboard and were looking to extend their lead against the 76ers. Before the rocky defense of the Philadelphians, the Boston players moved the ball trying to penetrate and pass to another teammate. Until Malcolm Brogdon has made a mistake and has given a gift to Tyrese Maxey that the party has changed. The 76ers have taken the lead and have better managed the decisive moment of an even game in which James Harden was huge, with 45 points in the game and a decisive three-pointer with 8 seconds left. Those of Philadelphia win the first game of the Eastern semifinal (115-119) despite the fact that their other star, Joel Embiid, was on the injured bench.

The 76ers quickly dispatched the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs (4-0) and after this Monday they remain undefeated in the postseason. The semifinal that pits them against the Celtics looks like the early final of the Eastern Conference (with the permission of the surprising Miami Heat of Jimmy Butler). But while the Celtics arrived with their entire team and played the first game at home, the Philadelphians came as visitors without Joel Embiid.

Embiid’s was not just any casualty. The Philadelphia 76ers center, who said a few years ago that he learned to shoot with a YouTube tutorial, was the top scorer in the regular season with 33.1 points per game. The player born in Yaoundé (Cameroon) has repeated for the second consecutive season as top scorer, something that a center had not achieved since Bob McAdoo, almost 50 years ago.

In the absence of Embiid, the stripes corresponded to James Harden, who has guided his team to victory with 45 points, his scoring record in the playoffs, and 6 assists. He has been well escorted by Tyrese Maxey, who has added 26 points. The outer men have taken care of adding, while the insiders showed their teeth in defense. Paul Reed, Embiid’s replacement, has stayed at 10 points, but has grabbed 13 rebounds and has stopped the Celtics under the hoops.

In the Boston team, his most outstanding man has been, once again, Jayson Tatum, with 39 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists, with a series of 14 of 25 shooting from the field. Jaylen Brown has added 23 points and Malcolm Brogdon, 20, although he will be remembered more for the gift ball at a key moment. The 2022 NBA runners-up aren’t showing their best side in the playoffs. They already suffered a lot to eliminate the Atlanta Hawks.

The game has been almost even from start to finish. The biggest advantages have been in the first quarter, in which the Celtics have finished with 38-31 in their favor. The 76ers have closed the gap and at halftime they have reached 66-63 in favor of the locals. The balance was completely equalized in the third quarter and they entered the last one with a tie at 87. In that phase, the alternatives have followed one another until Brogdon’s gift and Harden’s decisive triple. After Philadelphia’s victory (115-119), the second game of the semifinal will be played this Wednesday, again in Boston.

In the other East semifinal, the Miami Heat beat the Knicks in New York on Sunday (101-108), again with Jimmy Butler as the team’s top scorer. After knocking down Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Milwaukee Bucks by surprise, those from Miami begin to dream of the Eastern Conference final.

You can follow EL PAÍS Sports on Facebook and Twitteror sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter.