Jayson Tatum scored a playoff-career-high 32 points, Jaylen Brown added 29 and the Boston Celtics beat the Philadelphia 76ers 109-101 in the opener of their first-round playoff series Monday night near Orlando.
Brown had 15 points in the fourth, as the Celtics outscored the 76ers 34-22 in the final quarter to take Game 1 of the best-of-seven series. Tatum finished with 13 rebounds, and Kemba Walker chipped in 19 points.
Joel Embiid led Philadelphia with 26 points and 16 rebounds, and Josh Richardson and Alec Burks each scored 18. The 76ers played without All-Star guard Ben Simmons (knee surgery).
Game 2 of the series will take place Wednesday night. Of note, Gordon Hayward exited in the fourth for the Celtics with a right ankle sprain and did not return.
Brown, who missed time in the third quarter with a right thigh contusion, tied the score at 86 on a 3-pointer with 8:34 to go in the fourth. He hit four free throws in a 3-second span for a 92-86 margin.
Philadelphia got within three before Brown was at it again, nailing a 3-pointer to increase the Celtics’ lead to 99-91 with 4:29 remaining. Walker gave Boston a 10-point edge, 101-91, with 3:16 left, but the 76ers got within 103-100 on a Richardson 3 with 59 ticks to go.
Tatum hit a pair of free throws with 41 seconds left as the Celtics pulled away for the win.
Boston’s lead grew as high as 11, 70-59, in the third before Philadelphia used a 17-3 stretch in the final 5:52 to take a 79-75 edge into the fourth.
Tatum had 21 points and eight rebounds as the Celtics had a six-point lead at halftime. He took control with 15 points in the second, and the Celtics followed suit, grabbing their first double-digit lead, 53-43, on a Brown layup with 1:33 left.
Philadelphia entered halftime down 55-49 after committing 13 turnovers in the half. Embiid had 13 points and nine rebounds.
Embiid scored 11 of Philadelphia’s first 17 points as the 76ers ended the first quarter up 26-25.