After a grueling series, it all led up to Game 7 at TD Garden between the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers. The first half was tight and ended 55-52. The only thing separating the two was a step-back three from Jayson Tatum. Boston’s superstar went for 25 points in the first half and set an NBA Playoffs Game 7 record with 51 points. It finished 112-88 in favor of the Celtics, who now go on to face the Miami Heat.
The series itself had a similar feel to the one against the Milwaukee Bucks last year. Down 3-2 going to Milwaukee, Jayson Tatum stepped up, scoring 46 points, and Boston closed it out on their home court. Speaking of past seasons, it is a bubble rematch between the four teams remaining. In 2020, the same teams faced off in the playoffs. It was Boston vs. Miami and Los Angeles vs. Denver. Three years later, the Celtics look for a different outcome and to repeat what happened a season ago.
Three Key Takeaways From the Celtics’ Game 7 Win Over the 76ers
Jayson Tatum Willed The Celtics to Victory
It was another NBA Playoff masterpiece in Boston for Jayson Tatum. The way Tatum scored the basketball was unbelievable, scoring 51 points on 60% shooting from the field and beyond the arc. In addition, he continued his rebounding dominance adding 13 to his total now at 138, which is 4th best in the playoffs. Overall, it was a complete game from the Celtics superstar scoring, defending, and simply making the right play.
In Game 6, Jayson Tatum could not get it going until the 4th quarter. However, it was all Jayson Tatum in Game 7 from the jump. One of the major stats that jump out in the box score is the 0 turnovers. It jumps out because of his utilization all game touching it every possession and seemingly did not make a single wrong read.
Jayson Tatum tied Celtics great Ray Allen for the third-most points scored in an NBA Playoff game with 51 points. This incredible display only trails John Havlicek, who scored 54 vs. Atlanta in 1973, and Isaiah Thomas, who scored 53 vs. Washington in 2017. A bounce-back performance for the ages from a Celtics star. Not only did Tatum display mental toughness by bouncing back, but he did it in Game 7.
Al Horford Shut Down Joel Embiid in Games 6 and 7
Throughout the series, the Celtics threw different defenders at Joel Embiid. It was the defense by committee to stop the MVP, who had dominated the whole season. Instead of guarding him straight up, there would be help defenders looking to double Embiid. As a result, the Celtics dropped games in this series because others stepped up, like James Harden and Tyrese Maxey. However, in the series’ final two games, it was mainly Al Horford on Embiid.
The savvy veteran held Joel Embiid to just 20.5 ppg in Games 6 & 7. Embiid averaged a career-high 33.1 ppg and won the scoring title during the regular season. Horford stumped Joel Embiid by outsmarting him with his defensive awareness and ability to pick up on tendencies. The Celtics’ big man had guarded him the entire series and played with him in a previous campaign.
Utilizing this knowledge Al Horford was able to step up in the biggest games of the season. Most of the things Horford did will not show up on the stat sheet, but game-high three blocks will. His closeouts were incredible, and his positioning, whether in the post or near the arc, was impeccable.
Boston Celtics Momentum Headed to the Eastern Conference Finals
The Celtics are now in their fifth Eastern Conference Finals in the last seven seasons. This shows how well the teams have played over a seven-year span, but the major issue is that they have not won a championship since 2008. A storied franchise like the Boston Celtics is looking to get back to its decorated history.
A familiar opponent stands in their way in the Miami Heat. Jimmy Butler has led the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference through the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks and the New York Knicks. Additionally, the Heat have lost key role players during the playoffs in Victor Oladipo and Tyler Herro. The loss of these players has seen Jimmy Butler put the Heat on his back to get through the first two rounds.
The Boston Celtics are coming off two lengthy series wins. On the other hand, Miami took care of Giannis Antetokuonmpo in five games and the Knicks in six games. Boston has played with a large rotation throughout the season. However, it dwindled to a seven-man rotation against Philadelphia. Everything is in front of the Celtics, who hold home court to win championship number 18.