The 76ers (1-0) are set to meet a familiar foe once again Wednesday, playing their second Eastern Conference Semifinal matchup against the Boston Celtics (0-1), with a chance to remain undefeated in the 2023 playoffs.
Absent newly crowned 2022-23 MVP Joel Embiid (right knee sprain) in Game 1, the shorthanded Sixers stole one on the road, earning a 119-115 victory.
James Harden tied his playoff career-high, scoring 45 points including seven 3-pointers.
“He was awesome,” Doc Rivers said of Harden. “Kept his cool, knew when to attack, knew when to give it up. He had great patience overall.”
Tobias Harris applauded Harden postgame:
“[James] has a huge amount of confidence in his game. He’s been doing it for so long. This was an amazing time to come out and dominate. He dominated the whole game, and carried us to a victory. It was a team victory, but he did an amazing job.”
The Celtics led by as many as 12, fueled by Jayson Tatum’s 39 points on 14-for-25 shooting and 4-for-5 shooting from long range, plus 11 rebounds and five assists. Jaylen Brown added 23 points, six rebounds, and four assists, while Malcolm Brogdon scored a Boston bench-high 20 points, three rebounds, and three assists.
But the Sixers closed the Boston lead to a tie game ahead of the fourth quarter - a frame that saw late-game contributions across the Sixers’ eight-man rotation.
Postgame, all sights turned straight to Game 2.
“We didn’t come into the game expecting to lose,” Harden said. “We are here to win. After the game, I told the guys, ‘Don’t get too happy.’ We’re even-keeled. We’re coming in to get Game 2 as well.”
The Sixers took 89 shots versus the Celtics’ 75. They also won the turnover battle, 16-6. Philadelphia shot 50.6% overall (45-89 fg), 44.7% from long range (17-38 3fg), and a perfect 100.0% from the foul line (12-12 FT).
Embiid remains doubtful for Game 2.
Wednesday’s Game 2 is an 8:00 p.m. ET tip.
Monday’s Key Performances:
- Harden totalled a game-high 45 points, plus six assists and two steals. He shot 17-for-30 from the field including seven three-pointers in 39 minutes of play.
Maxey tallied 26 points, two assists, and a game-high four steals in his 36 minutes, finishing at a game-high +12.
Harris scored 18 points on 8-for-16 shooting, plus five rebounds, three assists, and a steal.
Melton finished with a bench-high 17 points, two assists, and two blocks. He shot 6-for-10 from the field and 5-for-6 from long range.
Reed notched a 10-point, 13-rebound double-double, plus two assists, a steal, and a block.
Quote to Note:
Melton on the energy around the team heading into Game 1:
“I felt good coming in today, honestly. The energy around the whole team, the whole organization, was good vibes. Then my teammates were trusting me, so I kept shooting.”
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