76ers: Celtics spoil MVP Embiid’s return, tied series with 76ers


Celtics tied series with 76ers

On Wednesday night, Joel Embiid’s return was derailed by Jaylen Brown’s 25 points and the Boston Celtics’ 121-87 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.

As Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series is played in Philadelphia on Friday, the Celtics tied the series at one game apiece.

In addition, Malcolm Brogdon scored 23 points and made six of the 20 three-point attempts made by Boston.

Boston ratcheted up its defense and limited a 76ers team that hit 17 3-pointers in its Game 1 win to just 6 of 30 from beyond the arc on Wednesday. The Celtics led by as many as 36 points in the fourth quarter.

Tobias Harris led the 76ers with 16 points. Embiid finished with 15 points, three rebounds and five blocks in his first game back from a sprained right knee that caused him to miss the final game of the 76ers’ first-round sweep of Brooklyn. He also sat out Philadelphia’s Game 1 win on Monday.

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Embiid’s return came a day after being voted MVP for the first time.

He was cleared to play by doctors and training staff following a pregame, on-court workout. That was after he did some light work during the 76ers’ morning shootaround.

Tatum picked up three fouls in the first half. He was called for his fourth at the 7:34 mark of the third quarter when he knocked Harden to the floor while trying to fight through a screen.

It forced him to play a little less aggressively and helped Philadelphia cut what had been an 18-point Boston lead to 73-60 with just over four minutes to play in the third quarter.

But Tatum’s teammates picked up the slack, leading the way as the Celtics closed the quarter on a 19-5 run to get it back up to 92-65 entering the fourth.

Embiid started slowly offensively, but with the 76ers struggling to make shots from the outside, he made an almost immediate impact defensively.

First, he blocked an early shot by Smart and then forced White to adjust another attempt. Embiid had five blocks his first 13 minutes of action.

But his conditioning was noticeably lacking as he lumbered into sets at times. He played just shy of seven minutes in the first quarter before getting his first rest. He returned for the final 1:05 of the period.

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Embiid knocked down his first field goal of the night. a jumper over Grant Williams, with 21.4 seconds left before tripping as he backpedaled back down the court. He quickly rose to his feet. He finished the first half with 13 points, going 7 of 8 from the free throw line.

76ers: Shot 1 of 13 from the 3-point line in the first half. … Didn’t get their first offensive rebound until the 9:41 mark of the second quarter.

Celtics: Tatum’s seven points marked the first time he was held to single digits in a playoff game since Game 2 of Boston’s 2021 first-round series against Brooklyn, when he had nine. … Boston led 57-49 at halftime. … Had just three turnovers in the opening 24 minutes. Derrick White and Marcus Smart added 15 points apiece. Jayson Tatum played most of the game in foul trouble and was held to seven points.

The Celtics increased their pressure on the Sixers on Wednesday night after initially criticizing their own defensive performance in the series. Harden finished with the worst field goal percentage in an NBA playoff game after scoring 45 points, shooting 2-for-14 from the field and 0-for-6 on three-pointers.

In his first game following a knee injury, Embiid was put through a test by the Celtics, who attacked him in the pick-and-roll and forced him into open space to see how much running he could withstand. Embiid had a 4-for-9 field goal percentage, but he did end up with five blocks.

The Celtics, who attempted a season-low 26 3-pointers in Game 1, made 20 of their 51 attempts in this game, including a barrage of seven 3-pointers in the third quarter that effectively ended the game. Tatum and Brown were able to take a break for the fourth quarter as the Celtics easily won after Boston outscored the Sixers 35-16 in the third quarter.

The Celtics forward Grant Williams said, “You never want to enter a game feeling like you let one go. “We engaged in that activity far too frequently both last year and this year. You definitely have an advantage thanks to it. Now the question is, will you be able to repeat your performance in the following game.

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