Irving's 36 powers Celtics to 108-97 win over 76ers
The Philadelphia 76ers stopped by TD Garden on Thursday night to face the Celtics in Boston's second game of a five-game home-stand. Philadelphia was without polarizing young center Joel Embiid, who the Sixers chose not to play as a precaution on account of his lingering knee injury.
After shooting 52% from the field on Tuesday against the Pistons, the Celtics were able to retain that offensive consistency right off the bat as they hit 53% of their shots in the first quarter and outscored Philadelphia 28-22. Kyrie Irving had 11 points in the period.
Boston slowed down a bit to start the second quarter, but picked up some steam after Irving hit a three with just over six minutes left to go in the half. Philadelphia responded by closing the gap to two points on a JJ Redick three with 2:12 to go, but the proximity of the score was short-lived. The Celtics finished the half on an 11-3 run, making it a 10-point game at halftime. Their unselfish, team-oriented play was on full display during the run, and led to an Al Horford slam off a well-placed lob from Marcus Smart.
The rest of the quarter wasn't always so pretty for Boston, as the Sixers were able to muster a run to come all the way back and take a lead with just under four minutes left in the period. But the Celtics bench was able to bounce back and retake the lead, finishing the quarter up by five.
The Celtics seemed to claim control in all facets of the game in the final quarter, and they quickly re-established a double digit lead, which they maintained for most of the remainder of the night.
Kyrie Irving (36 points), Al Horford (21 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists), and Marcus Morris (17 points off the bench) helped Boston maintain stability throughout most of the night, and Jayson Tatum (15 points, 6/11 FG, 2/3 3PT) was instrumental in sealing the deal on the 108-97 victory with some key baskets towards the end of the game, which included effortlessly taking advantage of Amir Johnson switching onto him.
Marcus Smart limped off the court and into the locker room to be evaluated by a trainer after colliding with Richaun Holmes towards the end of the third quarter, but eventually returned to finish the game. He later explained the brief absence.
Smart on briefly leaving the game: "Somebody stepped on the back of my Achilles and I just felt like a sharp pain. I just came back here to make sure everything was all right, re-tape it and everything was all right. It was just a stinger so I came back out to play."