NBA Playoffs – playoffs – working day 22
Joel Embiid played his first game this Wednesday after being elected MVP, but his Philadelphia 76ers could not celebrate it with a victory since they fell resoundingly 121-87 against the Boston Celtics who equalized this Eastern Conference semifinal (1-1). The Cameroonian center missed the first game of this series due to a knee injury and, on his return to the courts, added 15 points (4 of 9 shooting, 7 of 8 from the personal line), 3 rebounds and 5 blocks in 27 minutes (none of the figures of the two teams played in the last quarter because the game had already been decided).
After their disappointment in the first game, the Celtics recovered wonderfully and crushed the Sixers in the second game, especially in a devastating third quarter (35-16). Jaylen Brown (25 points) and Malcolm Brogdon from the bench (23 points) joined efforts to cover the gray game of a Jayson Tatum with foul problems (7 points on 1 of 7 shooting). For his part, James Harden, after his magnificent performance on Monday (45 points), had a night to forget this Wednesday with 12 points and 10 rebounds with an unfortunate 2 of 14 shots to the basket (0 of 6 in triples).
None of Doc Rivers’ players scored more than 20 points and the Sixers went a dismal 6 of 30 on 3-pointers to a solid 20 of 51 for their opponents. The series now travels to Philadelphia, where Game 3 will be played on Friday. There was a lot of interest to see how Embiid returned after his injury and the MVP gradually picked up pace until he signed 6 points, a rebound and 2 blocks in the first quarter. Next to him, Harden (9 points) stood out in a Sixers who knew how to get oil from their visits to the personnel line (9 of 10). However, the Celtics, in a first period of limited success on both teams, took the lead thanks to a great Brown with 13 points (28-22).
The shooting problems continued in the second quarter for the Sixers who began to slip on the scoreboard against the Celtics with Brogdon directing his second unit (37-26 with 9.55 for the break) Tyrese Maxey relieved Philadelphia’s offensive logjam with 10 points in the second period while Embiid imposed his law on defense with 5 blocks in the first half. For its part, Boston had to deal with a discreet Tatum who also added his third foul before the break. But Marcus Smart took responsibility with 13 points in the first two quarters and the Celtics left at halftime with an advantage (57-49) against a very thick Sixers in triple (1 of 13).
The restart was marked by turbulence: Harden received a blow to the face from Tatum (fourth foul for the local star) and Smart momentarily went to the locker room with shoulder pain after a spectacular fall with Embiid. In any case, the great protagonist of the third period was the enormous success of the Celtics in the perimeter. With a mighty 7 of 15 on 3-pointers, Boston put together a devastating 35-16 run in that period against a Sixers with no answers on defense and stagnant on offense. Brown continued to lead the Celtics (9 points) but this time he had the great support of Derrick White (10 points on 6 of 6 shooting) and Brogdon (9 points on 3 of 5 triples). Much more connected in all facets of the game, the Celtics managed to win 29 points in that triumphant third quarter and landed in the last 12 minutes with such a wide margin (92-65) that both coaches reserved their main men in the outcome for future fights of greater substance.
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