BOSTON — Jaylen Brown had used his public platform ahead of Sunday afternoon’s game to deliver a clear message to Celtics fans. The energy at TD Garden for the team’s home games during its Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Philadelphia 76ers had merely been OK, he said.
On Sunday, before Game 7, he urged the fans to be much louder. He got what he wanted as the Celtics beat the Sixers, 112-88, to close out the series.
The fans cheered every dunk and 3-pointer, every defensive stop and offensive rebound. They cheered any time Celtics forward Jayson Tatum got the ball. They cheered whenever Sixers center Joel Embiid missed a layup. And they were still cheering when the Celtics left the court with a decisive victory in the best-of-seven series and the assurance that their championship dream would live on.
Tatum, a first-team All-N.B.A. selection who had not exactly played flawless basketball during the series, was extraordinary on Sunday, scoring 51 points — an N.B.A. record for a Game 7. Brown added 25 points in the win. The Celtics led by as many as 30.
A blowout loss will surely lead to an off-season of uncertainty for the third-seeded 76ers, who had N.B.A. title hopes of their own. But Embiid, who recently collected his first N.B.A. Most Valuable Player Award, struggled in Game 7, finishing with just 15 points while shooting 5 of 18 from the field. Sixers guard James Harden scored only 9 points.
The Celtics, the No. 2 seed, put the game out of reach with a searing run in the third quarter that included back-to-back 3-pointers by Brown and Tatum to push the team’s lead to 15. The fourth quarter was a party that masqueraded as the closing stages of an otherwise tightly contested playoff series.
In the process, the Celtics earned a meeting with the eighth-seeded Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals, starting on Wednesday in Boston. After surviving the play-in bracket, the Heat ousted the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the first round, then eliminated the Knicks in six games in their conference semifinal series. Boston beat the seventh-seeded Atlanta Hawks in the first round.
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