Jayson Tatum had career playoff highs of 32 points and 13 rebounds, and the Boston Celtics beat the Philadelphia 76ers 109-101 on Monday in Game 1 of their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.
Jaylen Brown scored 15 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter and Kemba Walker added 19 points for the Celtics.
Joel Embiid had 26 points and 16 rebounds and Josh Richardson and Alec Burks each added 18 points for the 76ers. Philadelphia nearly pulled off the win without All-Star guard Ben Simmons, who is out indefinitely after left knee surgery.
Tatum scored 15 points in the second quarter to give the Celtics a 55-49 lead at halftime. The 76ers shot 56% in the first half, but the Celtics scored 16 points off the 76ers 13 turnovers.
The 76ers went on a 15-0 run late in the third quarter to take an 81-75 lead, and Philadelphia led 85-81 heading into the fourth.
The Celtics went on a 9-0 run that included seven points by Brown to take a 92-86 lead, and Boston pushed the lead to 10 before the 76ers made a final push. Philadelphia cut Boston’s lead to 103-100 on a 3-pointer by Josh Richardson with 59 seconds remaining, but the Celtics made 6 of 6 free throws in the final minute.
76ers: Embiid scored 11 points on 5-for-5 shooting in the first quarter. … Tobias Harris had seven assists in the first half and finished with eight. … Horford was called for a Flagrant 1 in the fourth quarter for a foul against Jaylen Brown. Horford corralled Brown on a drive to the hoop. … Shot 26 percent in the fourth quarter.
Celtics: Walker scored 11 points in the fourth quarter. … F Gordon Hayward limped off the court with about three minutes remaining after his foot came down on teammate Daniel Theis’ left foot. Coach Brad Stevens said it was a sprained ankle.
The teams will meet Wednesday in Game 2.