Celtics vs. 76ers takeaways: Shorthanded C's bury Sixers with 3s originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The shorthanded Boston Celtics pulled off a gutsy win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night.
Robert Williams (left ankle sprain) and Al Horford (right knee swelling) both were ruled out for the marquee matchup at TD Garden. In addition, Marcus Smart (right ankle sprain) missed his eighth consecutive game and Jaylen Brown (facial contusion) exited early after a scary collision with teammate Jayson Tatum.
Boston made up for those absences by shooting lights-out from beyond the arc. It shot 19-for-35 (54.3 percent) from 3-point range while Philadelphia went just 10-for-31 (32.3 percent). That was the difference as the Celtics squeaked out a 106-99 victory despite missing four of their starters.
Tatum's 12 points marked his lowest total of the season, but he dished nine assists and the Celtics' depth made up for his off night. Derrick White and Malcolm Brogdon led all C's scorers with 19 points. Blake Griffin and Grant Williams added 15 points apiece.
Sixers star Joel Embiid had a game-high 28 points in the losing effort. James Harden contributed 26 points while the rest of Philadelphia's offense struggled.
The Celtics will hope to be healthier when they go for their third straight win Friday night against the Charlotte Hornets. First, here are our takeaways from their impressive win over the 76ers, which brings them to 39-16 on the season.
Blake Griffin sparks Boston three party
With Robert Williams and Al Horford out, Blake Griffin got the starting nod. The veteran big man made his presence felt right away and was the catalyst for the Celtics' 3-point barrage.
Griffin drilled three straight 3s in the first four minutes of the game to account for nine of Boston's first 11 points.
That turned out to be the theme of the Celtics' win.
Altogether, the Celtics shot 6-for-10 from long range in the first quarter and were able to stay hot throughout the night. Griffin hit five of his eight 3-point attempts to finish with a season-high 15 points. He, Brogdon, White, Grant Williams, and Sam Hauser combined to shoot 18-for-26 from beyond the arc to lead Boston to victory. White delivered the biggest shot of the game to put the C's up six with less than two minutes left on the clock.
Celtics bench rises to the occasion
With Brown out and Tatum struggling, it was up to the Celtics' supporting cast to keep the game within reach. They went above and beyond with a spectacular all-around performance.
The second unit stepped up to outscore the 76ers bench, 41-21. Brogdon led the charge with 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting. The Sixth Man of the Year candidate has scored at least 10 points in each of his last 16 games.
Hauser entered Monday's game vs. Detroit shooting just 38.9 percent from 3-point range this season. Suddenly, he's 9-for-13 from 3 over his last two games after stringing together another excellent performance on Wednesday.
Luke Kornet also stepped up off the bench to minimize the absences of Robert Williams and Al Horford. The 7-foot-2 center had eight points, four rebounds and three blocks. His performance comes at an interesting time with the Celtics reportedly eyeing an upgrade at the center position ahead of Thursday's NBA trade deadline.
An impressive team win
Without question, this was one of the Celtics' most impressive victories of the 2022-23 NBA season.
It was a total team effort even before Brown exited the game late in the second quarter, leaving Boston without four of its starters. Brown and Tatum combined for only four points in the first quarter, but the Celtics still went into the second with a three-point lead thanks to their depth.
Finding a way to win despite Brown's injury (four points in 18 minutes) and Tatum's lowest scoring output of the season speaks volumes about this team's resiliency. Five players not named Brown or Tatum scored in double figures. Meanwhile, Embiid, Harden and De'Anthony Melton were the only Sixers to reach double-digits.
With the trade deadline looming, this might not be the same group by the time Friday's game comes around. If this was its last hurrah, it was a hell of a way to go out.