Jayson Tatum scored 51 points, the most in a Game 7 in NBA history, and the Boston Celtics beat the Philadelphia 76ers 112-88 on Sunday to advance to the Eastern Conference finals for the second straight year.
One game after missing 14 of his first 15 shots only to wake up in the fourth quarter, Tatum got the fast start the Celtics needed. He scored 25 in the first-half roundtrip and 17 more in the third quarter as Boston turned a 33-10 three-point lead into a riot.
The Celtics, who lost to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA final last year, will face the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference final, which begins Wednesday in Boston.
Tatum added 13 rebounds and Jaylen Brown scored 25 points for the Celtics, who rallied from a 3-2 deficit in the best-of-seven series to keep their hopes of an unprecedented 18th NBA championship alive. Tatum was taken out of the game with three minutes left to a standing ovation from the crowd, which soon erupted into a “Beat the Heat!” sing.
Newly crowned NBA MVP Joel Embiid scored 15 points on 5-of-18 shooting, and Tobias Harris scored 19 for Philadelphia. The Sixers lost in the conference semifinals for the third straight year and the fifth time in six seasons; they haven’t gone further since reaching the NBA Finals in 2001.
Tatum started 0-for-6 in a Game 5 loss and missed 14 of his first 15 floor shots overall in Game 6 before bursting for four 3-pointers in the final 4:14 to force the deciding Game 7.
He picked up where he left off, scoring Boston’s first basket and 11 points in the first quarter, 14 more in the second, and outscoring the Sixers on his own, 17-10, in the third. The 33-10 lead in the third was the lopsided fourth in a Game 7 since at least 1997.