Carried by 51 record points from Jayson Tatum, unstoppable, the Celtics overwhelmed (112-88) the Sixers of Joel Embiid, extinct MVP, to rally their third NBA Eastern Conference Finals in four years, where awaits them, as d usual, the Heat.
Miami, which dismissed New York in its semi-final (4-2), had won their first game in the Orlando anti-Covid bubble in 2020, before losing in the final to the Lakers. Last year, Boston took revenge, before in turn losing on the last step against Golden State.
It is therefore a beautiful electric which awaits these two rivals, Jimmy Butler and his family being warned, if necessary, of the mental resources which the C’s know how to show, like Tatum, in great difficulty during the three matches. previous ones and who ended up finding the way.
First in Philadelphia, during the previous meeting, where his 16 points (out of 19 in total) in the last quarter kept his team alive. Then on this final decisive game, during which he walked on water, surfing on a formidable address (17/28) to set a new record for points scored in the NBA in a seventh game, two weeks after the peak at 50 units of Stephen Curry (Warriors) in Sacramento.
“It feels good. In this series, there have been ups and downs, I didn’t play well three-quarters of the last game… So I’m happy to have been able to bounce back”, commented the winger, whose desire to do battle has transpired everywhere (13 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 interceptions).
It was he who put Boston in front of the score (42-41) halfway through the second quarter, being as aggressive in the circle, as surgical behind the arc (6/10), two of his banderillas flying above Joel Embiid who came in vain to hinder him.
To say that the Cameroonian pivot, content at 5/18 on shots (15 pts, 8 rebounds), did not respond for the most important match of the season is an understatement. It must be said that the Celtics poisoned his life with their relentless and rotating defense, with Al Horford as the regular blocker (3).
Philly started their game solidly, however, counting up to nine units ahead in the first quarter, when PJ Tucker planted all of his 11 points there. But in the following period, Jaylen Brown sounded the green revolt (25 pts), bubbling just after receiving an involuntary blow to the nose from James Harden.
The latter could not work a miracle, as was the case twice in matches N.1 and N.4 where his award-winning shots at the buzzers had offered victory to Philadelphia. Worse, he was transparent (9 pts at 3/11, 7 assists).
The Sixers will be able to harbor regrets. They had thought they had succeeded in the most difficult part by winning the N.5 match at TD Garden, without then finishing the job at home.
And with the advantage of the parquet recovered, the Celtics did not miss their chance, unlike Doc Rivers, who will inevitably be singled out for his inability to complete the series, after this fourth failure in play- offs, having nevertheless led 3-2. The previous three had happened when he was coaching … Boston in 2009, 2010 and 2012.
Asked about his future, the Sixers coach said he wanted to “continue” with Philly, arguing that he “has two years left on his contract”. There were also Mike Budenholzer and Monty Williams left, before the Bucks and the Suns fired them after their eliminations in the play-offs …