After winning a Game 7, the Boston Celtics host the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Monday night.
The Boston Celtics needed the full seven games to dispatch the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs, and now an even greater challenge lies ahead in the form of the red-hot Philadelphia 76ers.
The Celtics haven’t yet lost a playoff game at home this year, but they’ll likely have to keep that streak alive without Jaylen Brown. Brown strained his right hamstring in Boston’s Game 7 victory over the Bucks and has been labeled doubtful for Monday’s Game 1 against Philadelphia.
Brown will leave some big shoes to fill if he sits. He scored 17.9 points per game on 46.7 percent shooting against Milwaukee, including two games with at least 30 points. His absence would mean more on the plate for Al Horford, Jayson Tatum, Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart, among others.
Horford was brilliant in the first round, averaging 18.1 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists while shooting nearly 59 percent from the field. His 26-point performance in Game 7 led the way to the series-clinching victory.
Tatum and Rozier were also big in Game 7. Tatum had 20 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Rozier poured in 26 points and handed out nine dimes. Rozier has been significantly better at home than on the road in the playoffs, so that’s at least a good sign for the Celtics’ Game 1 chances.
The Sixers will provide a stiff challenge, though, and they’re the favorite in this series despite not having home-court advantage. After beating the Miami Heat in five games, Philly has still only lost one game in the last month and a half.
Ben Simmons nearly averaged a triple-double in his first playoff series, going for 18.2 points, 10.6 rebounds and nine assists per game. Joel Embiid missed the first two games of the series, but he returned to record 18.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per contest. J.J. Redick led the Sixers in scoring at 20 points per game as Philly put up over 114 points per game in the opening round.
The Sixers have been getting standout performances from stars and role players alike, and they’ll have to keep that up in a rowdy Boston atmosphere.
Date: Monday, April 30
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Venue: TD Garden
TV Info: TNT
Live Stream: Watch live on FuboTV. Sign up now for a free seven-day trial. Qualified subscribers can also watch on TNT Overtime.
The Celtics may not be the favorite in this series, but they’re a scrappy and well-coached bunch. The Brown injury is problematic, but with home-court advantage on their side for now, don’t count out Boston.