An “angry” Boston Celtics team is an unbeatable team.
The Philadelphia 76ers felt that wrath on Wednesday night in a Celtics’ 121-87 victory at TD Garden in Game 2 to tie the series at 1-1.
As annoying as that TNT drone frustrating viewers if the C’s bring the type of focus and energy they showed on Wednesday night to every game, they wouldn’t have lost Game 1 to a 76ers team that was without 2023 NBA MVP Joel Embiid.
But that has been the Celtics mojo throughout the regular season and through Game 1 of the second round of the 2022-23 NBA Playoffs. They have a knack for playing down to their competition, which is why the return of Embiid was a good thing for this team.
Celtics came out with energy and kept their foot on the pedal
Not only did they come out fired up, but they also set the tone early as Jaylen Brown displayed a defensive intensity on James Harden that wasn’t there in Game 1. It showed throughout the entire team as Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla made the adjustments he needed to make. One of which was inserting Grant Williams in the game.
Williams, who has been in Mazzulla’s doghouse helped with that defensive energy, which was again fueled by Brown, who took Game 1’s lack of urgency personal which showed on both ends of the court as he finished the game with 25 points. But it was that defense that stood out.
"“He did a phenomenal job tonight,” Grant Williams said following the game, via Celtics.com. “When he brings that intensity and that effort – at the start of the game especially – it locks us in on a different level, especially on the defensive side of the basketball, which we need. Right from the jump, he set the tone. Whenever somebody subbed in and they didn’t pick up full, he was yelling at them to pick up full. It really set that physical nature and it gives us that opportunity to really be a different team and play fast this game.”"
In leading by example, Brown put some full court pressure on Harden early that showed Game 2 was going to be a different game for the 76ers offensively. Embiid presented a different kind of challenge, but one this Celtics team usually rises to, which showed from start to finish in the 34-point victory.
Celtics unsung hero Malcolm Brogdon puts on a redemption show
What was impressive about the Game 2 victory is that Jayson Tatum only scored 7 points in this game. One of the reasons, besides Brown’s energy, was Malcolm Brogdon showing just why he is the Sixth Man of the Year.
Brogdon redeemed himself after committing a key turnover down the stretch in the team’s 119-115 Game 1 loss. With 23 points off the bench, the veteran guard was in the middle of a key run in the third quarter that put the game out of reach.
After the 76ers dwindled the lead down to 13 in the third quarter, the Celtics responded with a 19-3 run in which he drained three 3-pointers. That helped extend the lead to 29 points and put the 76ers away for the night.
But in all, the star of the Game 2 victory was the team defense. The Boston Celtics as a team came out strong and maintained that defensive energy throughout by holding Philly to just 39.2 percent shooting for the game and just 6 for 20 from behind the stripe.
In a live by the 3, die by the 3 league, keeping Philly cold while knocking down the 3 on the other end helped the Celtics run away with this one. As far as the MVP, Embiid didn’t look as explosive, but the Celtics did hold him to just 15 points on 4 of 9 shooting. But it was his presence on the court that seemed to change the mindset of the C’s.
There was no playing down to the competition in this one. Now, let’s keep that mindset.