By Ryan Quill
MIDDLEBORO, MA – The Boston Celtics beat the Philadelphia 76ers 114-112 in game five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals last night and will face LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics got a complete effort out of their squad and gutted out a gritty, down to the wire, series clinching win.
Rookie Jayson Tatum led the Celtics to the win and outplayed Sixers rookie Ben Simmons in the entire series. Tatum didn’t even attempt a three in this game, and still finished with a beautiful 25 points, 3 rebounds and 4 assists on 8-15 shooting. He finished this five game series averaging nearly 24 points a night on 53% shooting on 16 field goal attempts a night. He has also had seven straight playoff games with 20+ points and is only 20 years old. The future is bright for the Celtics, with a core of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown wreaking havoc on the eastern conference for years to come.
Speaking of Jaylen Brown, he was also fantastic in this one, finishing with 24 points on 10-13 shooting and clearly showing Celtics fans that he is past his hamstring injury. He also went 4-4 when being guarded by Ben Simmons, with the rest of the Celtics go 8-10 on Simmons as a whole. He and Tatum are both versatile wings, very important in today’s NBA, and just shows that the Celtics made the right decisions in the past two NBA drafts.
Celtics big man Al Horford also showed up last night, with an all around game. He tallied 15 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 5 steals. He also led the team with 16 field goal attempts and led all starters with a +8. In the fourth quarter alone, he had 6 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 gigantic steals while shooting 3-5 in the whole 12 minutes of the fourth. He held the Sixers to 8-19 shooting against him and Embiid to just 1-5 against him. He led the C’s in deflections with 7, shots contested with 13 and box outs with 12. Horford made sure the Celtics would close this one out at home, and lived up to his max contract when it was needed most.
Marcus Smart may never learn how to really shoot, but he is still very valuable to this team and makes plays that won’t show up on the stat sheet. He shot a poor 3-8 from the field but still finished with 14 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals while also being a team high +10. Marcus is instrumental to this team’s success and is vital for the Celtics if they want to make it to the NBA Finals.
The Celts also played with much more energy in game five, winning the second chance points battle 15-7, the fast break battle 15-12 and did a much better job in terms of staying close in regards to points in the paint.
Terry “Scary Terry” Rozier didn’t have an efficient night, but still put up 17 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists with just two turnovers in a team high 40 minutes. Terry had a very good series, and will definitely be able to score against the Cavaliers, as they don’t really have any guards that will be able to stop Terry.
The Celtics now turn their attention to their own boogie man, LeBron James, who’s again standing in the way of the Celtics reaching the finals. Nobody is giving the Celtics any chance in this series, but people have been doubting this team all year ever since Gordon Hayward went down 5 minutes into opening night. Game one is Sunday, May 13, 2018 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics look to take a 1-0 series lead and protect home court while LeBron looks to make his eighth straight NBA Finals.