‘It’s a movie’: Tatum’s 51 sends C’s back to ECF-News

BOSTON — Like Jayson Tatum connected on another 3-pointer midway through the third quarter Sunday — on the way to a layup Philadelphia 76ers This time he was alone – he turned to the crowd of Bostonians and gave a loud shout.

“This is my—,” he said.

Tatum scored 51 points, the most in a Game 7 in NBA history, to lead the Celtics to a 112-88 victory to advance to the Eastern Conference finals. Tatum broke the record that was set two weeks ago Stephen Currywho scored 50 points in 7 games a Golden State Warriors‘first race against Sacramento Kings.

Tatum went 17-of-28 from the field and added 13 rebounds and five assists, becoming the fifth player in NBA history with at least 50-10-5 in a playoff game.

“It’s a video,” the Celtics guard Marcus Smart he said. “It’s a great movie. You can just sit back, eat your popcorn and watch it.”

After struggling through another high-scoring night in his Game 6 performance, Tatum responded with one of the best performances in franchise history. He scored or assisted 62 times in 7 games, more than the Sixers’ two stars Joel Embiid (15 points) and James Harden (nine points), who combined to score or assist for 44 points.

Tatum scored a total of 51 points on the court, according to ESPN’s tracking, against five different defenders, including 17 points against Embiid, the 2023 NBA MVP. Tatum finished fourth in voting for the award this season, a career-best finish, but at the end of the game a sold-out crowd at TD Garden cheered him on with “MVP” chants.

Before the game, Tatum called Sunday a chance for the Celtics to redeem themselves after losing their last game in Boston, drawing a home crowd. Tatum had a rough start to Game 6, shooting 1-for-13 through the first three quarters before heating up late.

“I was really excited at this point, to come out and play today,” Tatum said after Sunday’s game. “It was in my mind that I played as bad as I could for 42, 43 minutes. We have a saying, ‘It came from here.’

It was clear he was ready to answer from the start of Game 7. Tatum scored 25 points in the first quarter after scoring 18 points in the first half of Games 4, 5 and 6 combined.

“Going into Game 6 — it seems crazy, I was locked in,” Tatum said. “I was very tight. I was in my head thinking what I have to do. How many points I need to get. It’s a big moment.

“And today I was alone. Pregame, I was relaxed, laughing, laughing. That’s when I play well, when I’m having fun. I just tried not to think about the pressure, what everyone said. focus on the game and having fun.”

However, the Sixers led the first quarter and trailed 55-52 at halftime, staying in the game despite the struggles of all their stars. Boston then ran past Philadelphia in the third quarter, outscoring the Sixers 33-10 to open the game. Tatum scored 17 points in the third quarter alone, nearly doubling the Sixers’ total and putting the game out of reach.

Asked if he had seen a play like Tatum’s before in the playoffs, Sixers coach Doc Rivers said he only remembered one.

“I saw one. And it was in this house, unfortunately,” Rivers said. “And it was LeBron [James]. It’s the only time I’ve seen music like that and I’m glad I haven’t seen many. … [Tatum was] unbelievable.”

The Celtics advanced to the conference finals for the second straight season and fifth time in the last seven years.

“A team we know very well,” Tatum said of the matchup with Miami. “A very well-coached team, competes with the best, plays hard. They defend, make plays and find a way to win games. It’s going to be fun; it’s going to be very competitive and I’m looking forward to it.”

The Celtics improved to 3-2 in the series and won two straight to close it out. It was similar to how the Celtics met in last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals, where Boston came from 3-2 against Milwaukee to advance to the finals.

The Celtics have now won seven series after trailing 3-2, the most by any team in NBA history, according to ESPN’s Stats & Information survey.

“You always come into the series expecting the way it’s supposed to go, and that’s not the way the playoffs are,” first-year Celtics coach Joe Mazzella said. “We just worked together. We didn’t get too high, too low mentally. We had some bad patches, but we were able to keep our mental composure, which I think is very important in the playoffs.”

After losing in the NBA Finals last season, the Celtics will be relying on their experience from that tournament to carry them forward this season. The phrase “unfinished business” has been bandied about all year, and was featured prominently on the video board before Game 7.

With the other top seeds in the conference eliminated, the Celtics opened as -500 favorites to beat the Heat (+380) at Caesars Sportsbook. And when the last seconds of the fourth quarter ticked away, Boston fans were focused on the next task, chanting, “Beat the Heat.”

“We locked in and stayed together,” Celtics Center Al Horford he said. “[The Sixers are] the best team. This could have easily been the conference finals or had it been the other way around, it could have been a Finals game. They are good as a team. And you have to give them credit. It’s a good team. One team had to win, and we did. “

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