When Joel Embiid was dominated out for Recreation 1 in opposition to the Boston Celtics, the Philadelphia 76ers knew they wanted an enormous night time from James Harden. That is precisely what they acquired.
Harden balled out in Recreation 1, tying a playoff career-high with 45 factors on an environment friendly 17-of-30 capturing to steal homecourt benefit and provides the 76ers a shocking 1-0 sequence lead.
Embiid, who has traditionally confirmed to be a thorn within the Celtics’ aspect, averaged a monster 36.8 factors, 11.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists in 4 video games in opposition to Boston this season, together with a 41-point night time in February and a 52-point, 13-rebound explosion of their most up-to-date matchup on April 4.
The MVP frontrunner missed Recreation 1 with a knee harm he suffered within the first spherical in opposition to the Brooklyn Nets, and whereas there may be optimism he can return to the ground for Recreation 2 on Wednesday, Harden is assured the 76ers can repeat the trick at TD Backyard in Recreation 2.
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“We didn’t come into the sport anticipating to lose,” Harden mentioned postgame. “We’re right here to win. Even after this one, I informed guys don’t get too glad. We’re even-keeled. We’re coming in right here to get Recreation 2 as nicely.
“That’s the mindset we have now as a unit and whether or not Jo comes again or not, we’re gonna be able to go … Clearly, he’s every little thing to this workforce, however whoever’s on the ground, let’s go win a recreation. “That’s what we did tonight.”
MORE: NBA Twitter reacts to James Harden’s 45 factors in 76ers’ beautiful Recreation 1 win over Celtics
Harden’s Recreation 1 outing additionally put Harden alongside some 76ers legends.
Solely 5 gamers in 76ers historical past have recorded 45+ factors in a Playoff recreation.
Allen Iverson (7 Video games)
James Harden pic.twitter.com/9mGCmkMrPN
— NBA Historical past (@NBAHistory) Might 2, 2023
Harden’s first 40-point recreation in a 76ers uniform — and his first in two years — got here at precisely the time the 76ers wanted it as he turned again the clock with some trademark finishes on the rim and, in fact, his patented stepback 3-pointer.
James Harden’s game-winning 3-pointer vs. Celtics
With 8.4 seconds remaining within the recreation and the 76ers trailing 115-114, Harden turned again the clock.
Isolating Al Horford past the 3-point line, Harden hit the Celtics’ large man with a hypnotic dribble mixture, earlier than rising up for the dagger to place the 76ers in entrance for good.
James Harden walks via the game-winning 3 that gave him 45 PTS 👀#NBAPlayoffs introduced by Google Pixel pic.twitter.com/PgMK8gebJb
— NBA (@NBA) Might 2, 2023
“I feel PJ [Tucker] set the display and I got here off the display and I used to be questioning in the event that they have been going to place two on the ball,” Harden mentioned.
“So once they cross-screened, I pulled the ball again out, they only stayed on me one-on-one, so then I’m trying up and I’m simply ‘Alright, that is what I work on each day’ so I take one of the best obtainable shot it doesn’t matter what it’s. Simply increase up and shoot it.”
76ers vs. Celtics schedule
Right here is the entire schedule for the second-round sequence between Philadelphia and Boston, with video games both airing on TNT or ESPN.
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76ers 119, Celtics 115
8 p.m. at Celtics
7:30 p.m. at 76ers
3:30 p.m. at 76ers
TBD at Celtics
TBD at 76ers
TBD at Celtics