When the 76ers jumped out to a 22-point lead on the Celtics midway through the second quarter in Game 2, they looked like the talented young team some picked as a dark horse to win the NBA title.
When they promptly blew most of that 22-point lead in just a few minutes, they looked like an inexperienced young team that is still at least a year away from a championship.
The Celtics overcame that early deficit to win, 108-103, and go up 2-0 on the 76ers in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Philadelphia hosts Game 3 Saturday at 5 p.m ET.
The situation certainly looked dire for the Celtics earlier, as they trailed 48-26 with a little more than six minutes remaining before halftime. But Boston finished the half on a 25-8 run to cut the halftime deficit to five. The 76ers fell apart in those closing minutes, giving the Celtics too many open looks, and their own shots looked rushed.
It’s not a reach to say this game was won before halftime with that run. The rally fired up the Celtics, got the crowd back in the game, and put all the pressure on Philadelphia starting the second half.
“That was only the second quarter, and we knew the game was far from over,” Jayson Tatum told TNT about the comeback.
Boston continued its surge in the third quarter to take the lead, and while the 76ers kept it within a one-possession game late, the Celtics held on.
Boston put six players in double figures in scoring, led by Tatum with 21 points and Terry Rozier with 20. The 76ers were led by JJ Redick (23 points), Robert Covington (22) and Joel Embiid (20).
LeBron James, Kevin Love too much for Raptors
For the second straight game, LeBron James and the Cavaliers broke the Raptors’ hearts. At least this time they didn’t wait until overtime to do it.
James scored 43 points to lead the Cavs to an easy 128-110 victory over the Raptors in Toronto to put Cleveland up 2-0 in its Eastern Conference semifinal.
Game 3 is Saturday in Cleveland at 8:30 p.m. ET.
Toronto played well for most of the first half, building a nine-point lead just inside the 5-minute mark. But the Cavs closed to within three points at the half, and opened up the second half on fire. James scored 27 points after the break, as the Cavs built an insurmountable lead. He dished out 14 assists and had eight rebounds.
Kevin Love (31 points, 11 rebounds) also came up big for the Cavaliers.
Stud of the Night
Basketball fans, players, analysts and everyone else can debate the whole “Is LeBron James the greatest player of all time?” question. Let’s put that aside just to appreciate his brilliance in the here and now. Leading a team that is not as deep or talented as recent Cavs squads, James looked unstoppable Tuesday. He’s averaging 34.5 points, 13.5 assists and 9.5 rebounds in the two semifinals games.
Dud of the Night
Ben Simmons: What happened? Simmons did not play well in the first half, and sat an extended period in the second half as T.J. McConnell took over the point for the 76ers. Simmons finished with only one point, five turnovers and a terrible minus-23 rating.
Jayson Tatum explodes for the dunk.
Warriors (2-0) at Pelicans (0-2) 8 p.m. ET — The Pelicans kept it close in Game 2, but the Warriors rode the emotional wave of Stephen Curry’s return (28 points in 27 minutes) to dispatch the Pelicans. Even playing at home, the Pelicans might not have enough firepower to keep up with the defending NBA champions.
Rockets (1-1) at Jazz (1-1) 10:30 p.m. ET — The Jazz have been the surprise of the postseason, and winning Game 2 in Houston was huge. But the Rockets, who led the NBA with 15.3 made 3s per game this season, probably won’t shoot a dismal 10 of 37 from behind the arc again.