The Boston Celtics are the first team to advance to the Conference Semifinals.
Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum did the majority of the damage, combining for 60 points to put the series to rest against their rival Philadelphia 76ers. Joel Embiid had another major double-double of 30 points and 10 rebounds but in the end, the short-handed 76ers didn't have enough firepower to keep up with Boston.
For more on this series-clinching Game 4, we have you covered with some quick post-game thoughts below.
1. Kemba Walker steps up again
Part of what makes this Celtics team so terrifying is that All-Star guard and prolific scorer Kemba Walker is typically the third player mentioned when you're discussing the team's offensive threats.
He came up clutch in Game 3, scoring 24 points including the game-sealing bucket.
In Game 4 he came out with that same killer mentality, going off for 32 points on an efficient 8-for-15 from the field, 4-for-9 from 3-point land and 12-for-13 from the free throw line.
Kemba with the hot hand in the 1st half of Game 4, dropping 20 for the @celtics!#NBAPlayoffs #NBAonABC pic.twitter.com/Re6PuPtdIb- NBA (@NBA) August 23, 2020
His sore knee that kept him under a minutes restriction in the seeding games appears to be completely healed, as the guard is back to his usual herky-jerky, shifty, stop-and-start self without any limitation. That's a scary sight for the rest of the Eastern Conference.
Most importantly for Walker, this was the first playoff series win of his career.
2. Jayson Tatum bounces back
Picking up three fouls in the first quarter of Game 3 completely took Tatum out of rhythm for the entire game. His minutes were spotty and he missed the entire second quarter. As a result, Tatum scored just 15 points shooting 6-for-19 from the field and 2-for-9 from 3-point range.
It didn't take much for the All-Star forward to get that rhythm back, attacking the 76ers' defence early and often in Game 4. Tatum was back to his efficient self, scoring 28 points shooting 10-for-18 from the field and 2-for-5 from beyond the arc. He struggled at the charity stripe, only converting six of his 10 attempts, but his perimeter jumper looked smooth and he was an unstoppable force in transition, making Philly work to get back on defence on each of his 12 defensive rebounds.
.@jaytatum0 wasn't slowing down for anyone pic.twitter.com/Vrb5cxG5mC- Boston Celtics (@celtics) August 23, 2020
Tatum's 15 total rebounds marked a career-high for both the regular season and playoffs, and he also tallied four assists, two blocks and a steal. It was a well-rounded effort from the budding superstar.
3. Tobias Harris takes a vicious fall but plays through it
The 76ers couldn't catch a break from the injury bug this season.
Trailing by three points late in the third quarter, Philly lost another key player when forward Tobias Harris took a hard fall trying to block a Jayson Tatum layup attempt. He was amid one of the better games he's had in this series, scoring 16 points shooting 5-for-9 from the field and 2-for-4 from beyond the arc.
Harris had been diagnosed with a left eye laceration and was immediately tested for a concussion. To the surprise of anyone that saw the fall, Harris returned to the game midway through the fourth quarter.
He'd score four more points, finishing with 20 points and five boards.
4. Celtics 12-0 run to end the third quarter closes out the series
It's unfortunate that it had to come at the hands of Harris's injury, but Boston immediately took advantage of the 76ers playing down a starter.
Grant Williams had knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Celtics their three-point just prior to the injury, then Boston poured it on immediately after. They strung together three more buckets in a row, then capped off the quarter with a tough 3-pointer from Tatum to give the C's a 12-point lead going into the fourth quarter.
THAT'S HOW YOU CLOSE OUT THE THIRD🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/wiUS10Bisk- Boston Celtics (@celtics) August 23, 2020
They'd continue to build on that run, extending it to 19-2 to take a commanding 17-point lead only two minutes into the final frame. This stretch was the final nail in the coffin on Philly's season.
5. Joel Embiid's fourth-straight double-double
You cannot question Joel Embiid's effort in this series.
Although his team never saw the results he was looking for, Embiid put his best foot forward in every game. He'd record another monster double-double with 30 points and 10 rebounds, finishing with a double-double in each of the team's four playoff games.
He closed the series averaging 30.0 points and 12.3 rebounds per game, giving the Sixers everything he had in trying to extend their season.
This offseason will be full of speculation for Philly, so it works in Embiid's favour that he produced the way he did this postseason.
6. Emotions running high for Philly results in multiple technical fouls
The 76ers were scrapping to keep their season alive and sometimes that causes your emotions to get the best of you. That was certainly the case for Philly, which was assessed three technical fouls in this one.
Tobias Harris earned a technical foul in the second quarter after having the ball stolen from him by Jayson Tatum. Later in the quarter, Josh Richardson was given a tech for arguing a foul call when fighting for a rebound.
In the third quarter, head coach Brett Brown thought the officials missed a moving screen violation and received a tech when stating his case.
The Celtics went 2-for-3 on their technical free throw attempts.
7. Celtics fouling gives 76ers early advantage
Much like Game 3, the 76ers were living at the free throw line in the first half. Boston committed 10 personal fouls in the first quarter alone, rewarding Philly with 19 free throw attempts. The Sixers would convert 14 of those 19 attempts (73.7%) and take a five-point lead into the second period.
The fouling and free throw shooting would end up evening itself out as the game continued, but Boston will need to learn to contain themselves on the defensive end early on in games to prevent giving teams an early advantage.
8. The Celtics pull off first sweep in the history of this rivalry
Boston and Philadelphia is one of the best rivalries in NBA history - there is no love lost.
With this victory, this is the first time in the history of the rivalry that either team has pulled off a sweep. The Celtics have now won five consecutive playoff series against the 76ers and advance to 10-4 all-time in the playoffs against their familiar foe.
9. What's next?
The Celtics will now wait and see if the Toronto Raptors can close out the Brooklyn Nets with a four-game sweep later on Sunday. Should the Raptors take care of business, the two Atlantic Division rivals will face off in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
The date and time of Game 1 is stil to be determined.
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