It took the Celtics about 10 minutes to show that Game 2 vs. the visiting 76ers would be little more than 48 minutes of garbage time.
This after blowing Game 1 against a Sixers team that didn’t have league MVP Joel Embiid. But Embiid returned from a knee issue in Game 2 — and the Celtics won in a 121-87 rout.
Make sense of that.
But hey, welcome to the 2023 NBA Playoffs. Not a whole lot is predictable these days.
Either way, this particular series is tied at 1-all and headed to Philadelphia. So Jaylen Brown knew the Celtics had to make a stand.
“I think we’ve just got to take more pride in ourselves. That’s it,” Brown told reporters. “I just feel like we underperformed last game. We wanted to come out and play to the best of our ability. And that’s what we did.”
Boston sure did.
Brown led the way with 25 points, but it was a balanced effort all the way around. Sixth Man of the Year Malcolm Brogdon added 23 and Marcus Smart and Derrick White scored 15 apiece.
The Celtics didn’t even need the usual All-Star showing from Jayson Tatum, who spent most of the night in foul trouble and scored just seven points.
The Sixers received 16 points from Tobias Harris and 15 from Embiid, in a game where stats were mostly empty. The final score was the only thing that mattered, and by the start of the fourth quarter, it was a mere formality.
“As much as we wanted to win two games here, we won a game,” James Harden said, via Rich Hoffman of The Athletic. “Like I said a couple days ago, even keeled, you never want to get too high and you never want to get too low. Win a game, lose by 30 tonight, it all counts as one win, one loss.”
Results aside, we have a whole new series on our hands and things shift to the City of Brotherly Love. In the NBA playoffs, though, it’s anything but loving.
“Hostile environment. But it should be fun,” Brown said. “We should all be excited to embrace that challenge.”
Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla said his team was "angry" and "pissed" for the last 48 hours.
Did Mazzulla like them being mad heading into Game 2 against the 76ers?
🎥 @NBCSCeltics pic.twitter.com/wCMRegkhvZ
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) May 4, 2023
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