Jayson Tatum poured in a record-setting 51 points and the Boston Celtics used a 28-3 run in the third quarter to defeat the visiting Philadelphia 76ers 112-88 Sunday in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Tatum’s 51 points broke the NBA record for points scored in a Game 7, set earlier this postseason when Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry scored 50. Tatum was 17-for-28 from the field, including 6-of-10 on 3-point attempts. Tatum also had 13 rebounds, five assists and two steals.
“It felt great,” Tatum said. “This was a back-and-forth series. Obviously, I didn’t play well in the first half last game and I was just happy to get that opportunity to bounce back. ... Game 7 is all about win or go home.”
John Havlicek holds the record for points scored by a Celtics player in a playoff game. Havlicek scored 54 points in Game 1 of the 1973 Eastern Conference semifinals against the Atlanta Hawks.
Jaylen Brown added 25 points for the second-seeded Celtics, who will face the eighth-seeded Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals. That best-of-seven series begins Wednesday in Boston.
Joel Embiid, the NBA’s Most Valuable Player this season, shot 5-of-18 from the field and scored 15 points. He was held to two points in the second half.
Tobias Harris led third-seeded Philadelphia with 19 points. James Harden finished with nine points, seven assists and six rebounds.
Boston seized control of the game by outscoring Philadelphia 33-10 in the third quarter. The game was tied 55-55 with 11:37 remaining in the third, but Boston scored 28 of the next 31 points. The 76ers went scoreless for a 6:23 stretch in the quarter.
“We played great all year and this loss absolutely diminishes what we did in some way,” Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers said. “... I think this team is headed right. I thought we took another step this season. And then tonight I think we took a step backward. But that’s OK. That happens, too.”
Boston trailed 29-23 after one quarter, but outscored Philadelphia by nine points in the second and had a 55-52 lead at halftime. Tatum had 25 points, seven rebounds and four assists in the first half.
Said Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla: “We just handled the ebbs and flows of the series. Never got too emotionally high or low. We were able to keep our emotions intact, which is important during the playoffs.”
Philadelphia, which trailed 88-62 after three quarters, was attempting to advance past the Eastern Conference semifinals for the first time since 2001.
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