Jrue Holiday holds three fingers out after draining a 3-pointer against Philadelphia

Keys to the Game: Celtics 125, 76ers 119

Marc D'Amico
Team Reporter and Analyst

Key Moment

It wasn’t easy, and at times it was borderline ugly, but the Boston Celtics found a way to gut out a 125-119 win over the 76ers Friday night at TD Garden.

In a game that was closer than anyone expected, after it was announced pregame that both Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey would miss the contest for Philadelphia, the Celtics needed a couple of their players to step up during crunch time. Al Horford and Jrue Holiday did exactly that.

Horford totaled four points during the final 2:09 of the contest while also forcing a critical miss from Robert Covington on a corner 3-pointer that would have pushed the Sixers ahead 119-117 with 1:43 left. Horford gave every ounce of effort he had in his body to contest Covington’s shot, and it worked. With the big man’s arm outstretched on the close-out, Covington was forced to put much more arc under his shot than normal. As a result, the ball barely reached the rim, grazing off the front and right into the hands of Jaylen Brown.

Shortly thereafter, it was Holiday’s turn to come up clutch with plays at each end of the court. He scored two important points for Boston, but it was what preceded those points that made the most significant impact on the game.

With 1:18 remaining in a one-possession game, Holiday beat Covington to his spot on a drive to the basket and drew an offensive foul inside the lane. Then, 17 seconds later, as Boston’s shot clock was ticking down at the other end, Holiday bailed the C’s out with a driving hook shot attempt in the paint that drew a foul on Patrick Beverley. Holiday canned both free throws to make it a five-point game, which gave Boston a bit of breathing room heading into the final minute.

The team’s lead remained at five points or more until the final buzzer sounded, allowing the team to escape with a victory on a night in which it simply didn’t have its A-game game.

Key Player

Derrick White continues to play efficient basketball for the Celtics, while filling any role the team needs on a nightly basis.

Friday night, Boston needed him to up his scoring while contributing across the board. He delivered on both needs.

White tied Jayson Tatum for the team’s top scoring mark with 21 points. He needed only 11 shots to get there, as he shot 5-for-11 from the field, 3-for-4 from long range, and a perfect 8-for-8 from the free-throw line.

On top of the scoring, White also contributed six rebounds, five assists, one steal and one blocked shot. Those six rebounds finished second on the team, as did the five assists.


Box Score Nuggets

  • Derrick White and Jayson Tatum combined to score 42 points (21 apiece), and they needed only 20 shots to get there.
  • Each team was assessed two technical fouls.
  • Boston shot 50.6 percent from the field, 48.5 percent from long range, and 86.1 percent from the free-throw line.
  • Four Celtics scored either 20 or 21 points: White and Tatum with 21 apiece, and Jaylen Brown and Al Horford with 20 apiece.
  • Patrick Beverley led the game in both scoring (26 points) and assists (seven). Those 26 points tied his career high.
  • Robert Covington led all reserves with 18 points.
  • The game featured 17 ties and 16 lead changes.
  • Sam Hauser scored 11 points off of Boston's bench and shot 3-for-4 from long distance.
  • Boston scored 26 points off of Philly's 16 turnovers.
  • Six Celtics made at least two 3-pointers.
  • Boston outscored Philadelphia by eight points during both the first and the fourth quarters.

Quote of the Night

“I thought everybody stepped up, and that's just kinda the team that we have. And credit to them - I thought they did a great job executing on both ends of the floor."

– Joe Mazzulla on how the team responded to Jayson Tatum's ejection during the third quarter