Tatum scores 33 points; Celtics rout 76ers to take 2-0 lead
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida — Jayson Tatum scored 33 points and the Boston Celtics beat the Philadelphia 76ers 128-101 on Wednesday night to take a 2-0 lead in the first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.
Tatum had a career playoff high for the second straight game after scoring 32 points in the opener Monday.
“I’m playing confident,” Tatum said. “Just trying to be aggressive and trying to make the right play. I say that a lot, but that’s as easy as I can break it down.”
Kemba Walker added 22 points and Jaylen Brown had 20 for the Celtics, who shot 51% from the field.
“I think it got deflating when their shot makers went bananas,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said. “I’m not going to scold their (76ers) effort. I think you’ve got to shake their hands — the Celtics — on some of the shots.”
Joel Embiid had 34 points and 10 rebounds for Philadelphia, and Josh Richardson added 18 points.
“It’s a long series,” Embiid said. “We’ve got a long way to go. Obviously, this was a tough one tonight. We’ve got to lock in and get ready for Game 3.”
The Celtics lost starting forward Gordon Hayward to a right ankle sprain in Game 1 and expect him to be out for approximately four weeks.
The 76ers led by 14 in the first quarter, but the Celtics rallied to lead 65-57 at halftime. Boston coach Brad Stevens gave the reserves credit.
“Our bench took a game that was not going our way and changed it,” he said.
Brown’s 360-degree dunk with just under eight minutes left in the third quarter put the Celtics up 74-59. Boston extended its lead to 98-75 at the end of the period. The Celtics held the 76ers to 22% shooting in the quarter.
Brett Brown remained confident in his team.
“You make sure that you hold the spirit of the locker room,” he said. “You make sure that the group understands that there’s enough character and enough talent in the room to regroup.”
76ers: Matisse Thybulle started in place of Al Horford, and neither stood out. Horford scored four points and Thybulle scored two. … Embiid scored 15 points in the first quarter. … F Tobias Harris had 13 points and 11 rebounds. … G Shake Milton scored 14 points.
Celtics: … Tatum banked in a 32-footer late in the shot clock with 8.5 seconds left the first quarter. … Had no turnovers in the third quarter. … C Enes Kanter had 10 points and nine rebounds.
The Celtics committed just seven turnovers, including two in the first three quarters. The 76ers only committed nine.
Brett Brown on the higher-seeded Celtics winning the first two games: “If the planet were normal, you’d be going back to Philadelphia and they (the Celtics) did what they should have.”
Game 3 is Friday.
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