The Boston Celtics are headed to Game 7 vs Philadelphia, 95-86. Jayson Tatum had another abysmal performance to start game 6, only scoring 1 point in the first half. It was an off night offensively by both team’s stars, Joel Embiid, James Harden, and Jaylen Brown. Marcus Smart was the rock for Boston, and Joe Mazzulla gave him the credit postgame. Going into the final quarter, it was 73-71 in favor of Philadelphia, and Tatum came to life, scoring 16 of Boston’s 24 points.
Overall, Game 6 was very scrappy and contained many runs by both teams. Joe Mazzulla pressed the right button with his decision to start Robert Williams III over Derrick White. The change provided a different look defensively that stumped the 76ers offense and helped build a 16-point lead at one point. Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey fought back, taking the lead in the second half. However, even on Jayson Tatum’s worst playoff game in his career, it turned into one of his clutchest performances.
Jayson Tatum Cometh The Hour Cometh The Man
Jayson Tatum’s Late Offensive Explosion
The Celtics got the offense going despite Jayson Tatum throughout the first three quarters. Everything changed in the fourth when Tatum himself outscored the Philadelphia 76ers 16-13. Instead of losing confidence and passing up shots, Tatum took the looks he was given and saved the Celtics season. It was a very sloppy game for the Boston Celtics, who set their 2023 playoff high with 17 turnovers.
Philadelphia had every opportunity to close out the game in the second half, but Boston battled back. It was an ugly win, although when their back was against the wall, anything will work. The grit and toughness that were missing in Game 5 were present throughout the fourth quarter in Philadelphia. Jayson Tatum is no stranger to this moment. Trailing 3-2 to the Bucks last season, Tatum put up 46 in Milwaukee, forcing Game 7.
Marcus Smart Was Boston’s Best Player
In the biggest game of the season, it was Marcus Smart who stepped up. A series that has been all about the superstars in Embiid, Harden, Tatum, and Brown, it was the veteran guard Marcus Smart who delivered. The season would be over without Smart and his ability to settle the game down. Even though Marcus Smart is a huge piece defensively, his offense was on full display, leading the Celtics with 22 points.
The Boston Celtics rallied as a team around role players like Malcolm Brogdon, Robert Williams III, and Marcus Smart. It was a rare occurrence in the postseason where both Tatum and Brown did not have it going at all. Most of the night was controlled by Brogdon and Smart. Joe Mazzulla, during his postgame interview, said, “He(Marcus Smart) was the quarterback of our defense. Him and Rob.” This was the type of performance needed to keep the season alive. Mazzulla stepped up as a coach and made the proper adjustments that got the Boston Celtics the victory.
“He was the quarterback of our defense. Him and Rob.”
Joe Mazzulla talks Marcus Smart’s BIG performance for the C’s in Game 6 pic.twitter.com/05yyKGc86i
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) May 12, 2023
Boston Avoids Heartbreak
Based on the results in other series, it looks to be an open year in terms of title contention. The Boston Celtics own home court throughout the rest of the playoffs. The Milwaukee Bucks are eliminated, and there is a possibility of facing the Miami Heat once again in the Eastern Conference Finals. On the other side, the Western Conference Finals will be a high seed in either Golden State or Los Angeles versus the Denver Nuggets.
A loss to a team in the 76ers, which Boston has dominated in the postseason recently, would have been devastating. However, there is still a lot of work to be done in Game 7 at TD Garden on Sunday. Knowing that the season relies on this game, Boston will look to Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to step up. A bounce-back performance from both is just what the doctor ordered in Boston.