By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Celtics let the 76ers jump out to an early lead in Game 2, but it appears that was just out of the kindness of their hearts. After Philly took a 14-point lead in the first quarter, Boston absolutely demolished them the rest of the way, torching Philadelphia 128-101 to take a 2-0 series lead.
Jayson Tatum went absolutely bananas for most of the game, turning in another masterful performance against the team that could have drafted him back in 2017. Tatum put on another offensive clinic, scoring 33 points off 12-for-20 shooting. He led the Celtics on a 22-5 run after Philly took their early lead, and made even the most difficult shots look relatively easy once again.
Tatum hit five of his six threes in the first half and eight of 12 overall, including one from just inside the NBA logo at mid-court as the shot clock expired toward the end of the first quarter:
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) August 19, 2020
Boston went on a 34-10 run over a 10-minute stretch in the first half, as Tatum scored 18 points off 6-for-9 shooting ahead of the break. Boston took a 65-57 lead into halftime.
After Philadelphia hit 14 of their first 23 shots, the Boston defense clamped down and forced the 76ers to miss 12 of their next 15 attempts. Joel Embiid finished with 22 points in the first half, but was once again gassed in the second half, finishing the game with 33 points on 11-for-21 shooting (he was 8-for-14 in the first half). Philadelphia didn’t get much outside of their big man for the second straight game.
The Celtics kept up their intensity in the second half, while the 76ers did not. It was on full display four minutes into the third quarter on a play that ended with a 360 dunk from Jaylen Brown. Kemba Walker, after getting blocked by Embiid on the offensive end, stripped the 76ers big man on the other end to start a Boston fast break. Tatum fed a streaking Brown, who threw down the highlight jam with an unreal amount of ease to put Boston up 74-59:
Jaylen showing off his hops! 🐰 pic.twitter.com/3HHAVvXTL4
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) August 20, 2020
Brown finished with 20 points while Walker added 22 of his own. Marcus Smart started in place of Gordon Hayward, who is out the next four weeks with a Grade 3 ankle sprain that he suffered late in Game 1, and did what he usually does: pester Embiid and the 76ers on defense while scoring 10 points. Enes Kanter was big off the Boston bench, pouring in 10 points and nine rebounds in 22 minutes.
As a team, the Celtics shot 51 percent from the floor (44-for-87) and 44 percent (19-for-43) from three-point range.
But the story once again was Tatum, who is now the first player in Celtics history to score 30-plus point in back to back games before the age of 23. His eight made threes were tied for the second-most in Celtics playoff history, behind only the nine triples Ray Allen hit in Game 6 of the first round against the Chicago Bulls in 2009.
“We won this game tonight as a team and we’re going to continue to win as a team,” Tatum said after the win.
Now we patiently wait to see what Tatum does for a follow-up in Friday night’s Game 3, as the Celtics look to take a commanding 3-0 series lead.