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Boston Celtics avoid elimination with brilliant defense and clutch shooting in Game 6 win

The Boston Celtics semifinal series with the Philadelphia 76ers is heading to a do-or-die Game 7 after they kept their season alive with a fantastic defensive performance and some big-time clutch shooting from their top player.

Over the first three-quarters of the Boston Celtics Game 6 win over the Philadelphia 76ers, All-NBA first-team talent Jayson Tatum had an absolutely awful game. He was 0-16 at halftime, and things did not get much better in the third. However, an absurd amount of credit must go to his teammates for maintaining a lead throughout despite his shocking struggles.

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By the third quarter, a red, white, and blue wave of momentum came through and was finally able to get the 76ers the lead. But just like their lead in this series, it was short-lived as the Boston Celtics were able to regain control of the game and hold on or in striking distance until Tatum could turn on the heater and get his ice-cold shot going. Late in the fourth, that finally happened.

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Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

For much of the final period, the game went back and forth in what was a completely defensive-driven scrap. However, in the final six minutes, the Boston Celtics’ big-game experience, defense, and top star flipped the game in their favor and broke the 76ers heart.

With 5:57 left in the game, Tyrese Maxey hit a free throw to give his team an 83-81 lead. Philadelphia would only score three points for the rest of the game. Fortunately for the Boston Celtics, Jayson Tatum scored 12 of his 16 fourth-quarter points during that time. After the defense was able to keep them in the game for three and half quarters, the team’s leader was able to step up when he was needed most and landed the final daggers that secured a massive Game 6 win on the road.

Boston Celtics Game 6 stats: 42% FG, 43% 3PT, 96% FT, 95 points 50 rebounds, 22 assists

Credit must also go to first-time head coach Joe Mazzula. With the team on the brink of a stunning second-round exit from the 2023 NBA playoffs, the Celtics head coach chose to go back to a lineup his predecessor and former boss, Ime Udoka, used to great success last spring and put Robert Williams in the starting lineup for the first time in the postseason.

The move proved to be a stroke of genius as Williams brought his valuable rebounding and rim protection to the start of the game and he ended the night with a near double-double and was a +18 during his 28 minutes on the floor.

Along with Williams, Marcus Smart — the heart and soul of this Boston Celtics team — picked up the slack for Tatum and dropped a team-high 22 points to go along with seven boards, and seven assists as he also posted an outstanding +18 during a stellar 42 minutes on the court on Thursday night.

boston celtics
Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Jaylen Brown also delivered a solid game and was again key in limiting future Hall-of-Famer James Harden to just 4-16 from the field, including going 0-6 from three. He was a team worse -10 in Game 6 as he offer Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey little help when they needed him late in the game.

Beyond shooting a putrid 36% from the field and 24% from three, the 76ers seemed to give up late in the fourth quarter when the game started to get away from them, and that is not a good look or sign for a team and organization trying to get to the conference finals for the first time since 2001.

After a horrible Game 5 loss at home, the Boston Celtics have regained the momentum and will be a serious favorite for a colossal Game 7 clash in Beantown on Sunday.

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