By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Celtics broke out the brooms on Sunday and are moving on in the NBA playoffs. Boston swept the Philadelphia 76ers out of the NBA bubble, shaking off a sluggish first half and turning it on in the third quarter to take Game 4, 110-106.
It’s the first time the Celtics have ever swept a playoff series against the 76ers in their historic rivalry.
Kemba Walker led the charge for Boston with 32 points, while Jayson Tatum got hot late and scored 28. Walker is looking better by the game, shooting 8-for-15 on Sunday. He hit four of his nine threes, and also got to the free throw line 11 times.
This marks the first time that Walker will play in the second round of the NBA playoffs in his nine-year career.
Boston closed the third quarter on a 12-0 run and led 89-77 heading into the fourth quarter. Tatum accounted for seven of those points in the run, including a deep three with just 1.9 seconds left in the frame.
Jayson Tatum smells blood in the water. pic.twitter.com/bWPxxEOHnN
— Tucker Boynton (@Tucker_TnL) August 23, 2020
That’s just unfair. Tatum scored 10 points in the third quarter, and finished the game with 15 rebounds, a new playoff career-high for the 22-year-old. He shot 10-for-18 in Game 4, and hit 49 percent of his shots overall in the series.
Philadelphia made just four of its 21 shots from the floor in the third quarter. The wheels started to come off their season late in the quarter when Tobias Harris suffered a scary injury after he had his legs swept out from underneath him while in the air and slammed his face on the court. He was down for a few moments and was bloodied, but walked off under his own power. He was diagnosed with a left eye laceration, but was cleared for a concussion and returned to action with just over five minutes left in the fourth quarter. He finished the game with 20 points.
Philly big man Joel Embiid, who made it clear after Friday night’s loss that he didn’t want to be swept by Boston, finished with 30 points and 10 rebounds in the losing effort.
The Celtics were their own worst enemy in the first quarter, committing 10 fouls — real fouls too, not ones worth complaining about the refs over. Philadelphia got 19 free throws in the opening frame and connected on 14 of them. It was the most freebies the Celtics have awarded a team in the first quarter all year, and Philadelphia led 32-27.
Boston was much more disciplined in the second quarter with just four team fouls, but the Celtics defense was still way too lackadaisical. Philadelphia committed just one turnover in the first half to Boston’s eight. But Boston was able to close it to a one-point game at halftime, 58-57, thanks to 20 first half points from Walker and a pair of technical fouls on Philadelphia for voicing their displeasure to referees. Once the Celtics got going in the third, there wasn’t much Philadelphia could do to extend its season.
“I think it’s a great way to advance, with a sweep, but we’ve got to keep it going,” said Jaylen Brown, who scored 16 points in Game 4 and averaged 21.5 per game for the series. “Put this series behind us and look forward to the next one.”
“Even though we won this series and the series is done with, we haven’t won anything,” added guard Marcus Smart.
The Celtics will likely face the Raptors in the Eastern Conference semifinals, with Toronto going for a sweep of the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday evening. Boston took three of four matchups against the defending NBA champs during the regular season, including a 122-100 blowout victory in the NBA bubble earlier this month.