BOSTON — Marcus Smart was boxing out JJ Redick when Marcus Morris‘ shot bounced arduous off the again rim and ticked off the glass. Joel Embiid and his monstrous, 7-foot body shuffled ahead, poised to snare the rebound excessive of a participant a minimum of Eight inches shorter than him.
Smart had different plans.
Smart, his proper hand closely taped from the thumb surgical procedure he has rushed himself again from to assist an undermanned Boston Celtics workforce, timed his leap and one way or the other pried the ball away from Embiid together with his more healthy left hand. Smart, his again to the basket, went again up fast, double-clutched as Embiid made contact making an attempt to swat his shot, and one way or the other flicked the ball over the entrance of the rim for an and-1 bucket as TD Garden misplaced its collective thoughts.
Marcus Smart steals a rebound from Joel Embiid after which sinks an off-balanced reverse layup whereas drawing a foul.
Winning performs. It’s a phrase that Smart has made a part of the lexicon right here by routinely producing these form of game-changing moments. Usually, it is on the defensive finish — reminiscent of pouncing on a free ball (which is how he injured his thumb in the primary place) or making an help from the bottom (like he did to assist seal a pivotal, Game 5 victory in opposition to the Bucks final spherical).
Smart missed his first 5 photographs Monday whereas laboring by an ugly first half. To make issues worse, Embiid actually kicked Smart in the groin on the ultimate play of the third quarter. Smart wanted a second for the ache to subside, then stomped to the locker room whereas ripping aside the splint defending his thumb in frustration.
Smart scored all 9 of his factors in that third quarter, a body in which the Celtics refused to let the visiting Sixers make a cost, and Boston emerged with a 117-101 triumph in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference semifinal sequence.
Boston leads the best-of-seven sequence 1-Zero. Game 2 is again right here Thursday evening.
On this evening, there have been no scarcity of heroes for the Celtics.
Terry Rozier, who confirmed up in a Drew Bledsoe jersey designed as a ultimate jab at first-round rival Eric Bledsoe, scored a postseason excessive 29 factors on 11-of-18 capturing to go together with eight rebounds and 6 assists.
Al Horford passes the ball forward to Jayson Tatum, who glides to a robust, one-handed dunk.
The Celtics devoted chant, “Not a rookie” at Ben Simmons previous to his free throw try.
Al Horford, the MVP of Boston’s first-round sequence, was spectacular once more, with 26 factors on ultra-efficient 10-of-12 capturing all whereas spearheading a protection that held Simmons to modest numbers (18 factors, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and a game-worst 7 turnovers).
Maybe it was the rust of an prolonged layoff after dispatching the Miami Heat in 5 video games, however the Sixers struggled with their photographs. Philadelphia shot simply 19.2 % past the arc (5-of-26) and 42.2 % from the ground total (35-of-83). By comparability, Rozier made extra 3s by himself than Philadelphia as an entire (7-of-9 for Rozier from downtown).
On the day the Celtics and 76ers renewed their storied playoff rivalry, Boston simply so occurred to carry Bill Russell to city and gave him a baseline seat subsequent to the guests’ bench. Russell produced a few of his memorable moments whereas battling with Philadelphia’s Wilt Chamberlain, and he was a not-so delicate reminder of the historical past between the 2 groups.
With a inexperienced “Beat Phila” T-shirt — a by-product of the uncommon time these two fan bases bonded over a typical evil (the Los Angeles Lakers) some 36 years in the past — draped over his lap, Russell watched his former workforce take Game 1 of the sequence.
Embiid completed with 31 factors on 12-of-21 capturing with 13 rebounds, whereas Redick had 20 factors.