By Jerry Wein
Revenge is a dish best serve cold.
And the Celtics Jayson Tatum extracted a bit of it last night, three years after the Sixers traded up in the draft to take Markelle Fultz and essentially dissed Tatum.
Tatum scored 33 points and the Boston Celtics beat the Sixers 128-101 to take a 2-0 lead in the first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.
Tatum had a career playoff high for the second straight game after scoring 32 points in the opener Monday.
“I’m playing confident,” Tatum said. “Just trying to be aggressive and trying to make the right play. I say that a lot, but that’s as easy as I can break it down.”
Kemba Walker added 22 points and Jaylen Brown had 20 for the Celtics, who shot 51% from the field.
“I think it got deflating when their shot makers went bananas,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said. “I’m not going to scold their (76ers) effort. I think you’ve got to shake their hands — the Celtics — on some of the shots.”
Joel Embiid had 34 points and 10 rebounds for Philly, and Josh Richardson added 18 points.
“It’s a long series,” Embiid said. “We’ve got a long way to go. Obviously, this was a tough one tonight. We’ve got to lock in and get ready for Game 3.”
The Celtics lost starting forward Gordon Hayward to a right ankle sprain in Game 1 and expect him to be out for approximately four weeks.
The 76ers led by 14 in the first quarter, but the Celtics rallied to lead 65-57 at halftime. Boston coach Brad Stevens gave the reserves credit.
“Our bench took a game that was not going our way and changed it,” he said.
Brown’s 360-degree dunk with just under eight minutes left in the third quarter put the Celtics up 74-59. Boston extended its lead to 98-75 at the end of the period. The Celtics held the 76ers to 22% shooting in the quarter.
Brett Brown remained confident in his team.
“You make sure that you hold the spirit of the locker room,” he said. “You make sure that the group understands that there’s enough character and enough talent in the room to regroup.”