NBA playoffs

Late heroics from Jayson Tatum lift Celtics past 76ers, force Game 7


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Late heroics from Jayson Tatum lift Celtics past 76ers, force Game 7

TAKEOVER. Celtics forward Jayson Tatum shoots the ball past MVP center Joel Embiid of the Sixers during the fourth quarter of Game 6.

Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

‘I'm one of – humbly, one of the best basketball players in the world,’ says Jayson Tatum as the Boston star takes over in the clutch to keep the Celtics alive against the Sixers

Jayson Tatum hit four three-pointers in the final 4:14 of the fourth quarter and the Boston Celtics defeated the host Philadelphia 76ers, 95-86, to tie their Eastern Conference semifinal series at three wins apiece on Thursday, May 11 (Friday, May 12, Manila time).

Game 7 will be played on Sunday in Boston.

Tatum started 1-for-14 but rallied to finish with 19 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists on 5-of-21 shooting.

“I’m one of – humbly, one of the best basketball players in the world,” Tatum said in a postgame interview on ESPN. “You go through struggles. You go through slumps. My teammates trusted me.”

Marcus Smart led the Celtics with 22 points and Jaylen Brown added 17. Malcolm Brogdon contributed 16, Robert Williams chipped in 10 points and 9 rebounds, and Al Horford grabbed 11 rebounds.

Joel Embiid put up 26 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots and Tyrese Maxey added 26 points for the Sixers, who haven’t advanced to the Eastern Conference finals since 2001.

James Harden had 13 points and 9 assists.

The Sixers shot just 8-of-34 (23.5%) from three-point range, with Harden going 0-for-6.

“I would say we had a lot of wide open threes,” Sixers coach Doc Rivers said. “We just didn’t make them.”

Philadelphia is looking for its first playoff series victory over the Celtics since 1982, having lost to Boston five times in the postseason since then.

Tatum hit back-to-back contested three-pointers and the Celtics led 87-83 with 3:35 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Maxey shot an airball on a trey attempt but then came back to hit 1-of-2 free throws to cut the deficit to 87-84.

The 76ers led by five points late in the third quarter and by two in the middle of the fourth.

In the second quarter, the Celtics controlled the tempo, led by as many as 16 and took a 50-43 lead into halftime even with Tatum shooting 0-for-10 from the field.

Smart paced the Celtics with 15 first-half points. Maxey kept the Sixers close with 15 points before the break.

When Georges Niang dropped in a trey from the corner with 5:30 left in the third, the Sixers closed within 62-60.

After an empty possession by the Celtics, Embiid drew a foul and hit two free throws. Harden then made two free throws and the Sixers went ahead 64-62.

Derrick White responded with a three-pointer, his third of the game, and the Celtics regained a one-point advantage.

The Sixers led 73-71 at the end of the third. –

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