Tatum, Celtics hang on for 95-86 win over Sixers to force game 7
With their backs against the wall, Boston came out hungry, blazing out to a 15-3 start. Malcolm Brogdon’s 11 first quarter points and Marcus Smart’s nine second quarter points both contributed to getting the Celtics as large as a 16-point lead in the first half. And that was all despite Jayson Tatum starting 0-11 from the floor.
Sixers scratched and clawed back in it thanks to a 14-3 run in the third quarter, and it went as far as Philadelphia getting a two-point lead with less than six minutes to go in the game.
By that point, neither team had a lead of three or more in the fourth quarter, but Tatum hit back-to-back threes to give Boston a four-point lead, and he hit another later to give them an eight-point lead. So he goes from an 0-11 start to finishing 5-21 from the field for 19 points, nine rebounds, and six assists.
From my standpoint, the Sixers looked mightily lackadaisical in the late stages of this game once Tatum heated up, and that could’ve been due to looking ahead to Sunday. They’ll tip their game 7 off in Boston with time depending on whether Lakers-Warriors goes to seven.
Nuggets embarrass Suns on their home floor 125-100, ending their season
Neither Chris Paul (groin) nor Deandre Ayton (ribs) were in the lineup for Phoenix, so they were already behind the 8-ball a bit, but Cam Payne came out firing (10 points in first 7:03, finishing with a career-high 31 points), which usually bodes well for the star-reliant Phoenix, but those stars never really showed up.
Nuggets capitalized by going on a 19-0 run at the end of the first and a 19-2 run at the end of the second, expanding their lead to as big as 32 before the end of the half, looking eerily like Phoenix’s home blowout loss to Dallas in game 7 a year ago.
Nikola Jokic continued his incredible run, posting 32 points (13-18 FG), 10 rebounds, 12 assists, and three steals. It’s his second triple-double in a row, third this series (in which he became the third player ever to average a 30-point triple-double for a series), and now has 11 in the playoffs over his career.
Denver now has the luxury of sitting back and awaiting their Western Conference Finals opponent between the Lakers and Warriors; Lakers, with a 3-2 lead, have a chance to end the series at home on Friday at 10 p.m.