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Celtics-Sixers takeaways: Tatum, Brown dominate as C’s extend win streak

Celtics-Sixers takeaways: Tatum, Brown dominate as C’s extend win streak originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Three Key Storylines

  • The Jays combine to score 60 points

  • C’s overcome bad 3-point shooting

  • Boston‘s win streak reaches nine games

The Boston Celtics continued their dominance over the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night, earning a 117-99 victory at TD Garden to extend their win streak to nine games.

Jaylen Brown led the C’s with 31 points. He was one of three Boston starters, along with Jayson Tatum (29) and Kristaps Porzingis (23), who scored more than 20 points.

The Celtics led 53-51 at halftime and pushed their lead into double digits during the third quarter. The Sixers showed some resiliency in the fourth quarter, opening the frame with a 14-5 run and cutting Boston’s lead to 91-89 with 8:09 remaining. The Celtics immediately took back the momentum with a 17-0 run that ended the Sixers’ comeback hopes. With this result, Boston wins the season series 3-1 against Philly.

The Celtics will be back in action against Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving and the Dallas Mavericks at TD Garden on Friday night.

Before we look ahead to that matchup, here are three takeaways from Celtics-Sixers.

The Jays dominate offensively

Jaylen Brown got the Celtics going early, which is something he’s done consistently after the All-Star break.

Brown is averaging 19.3 points in the first half in the last three games. He poured in 18 points in the first half Tuesday night, which helped the C’s overcome poor shooting over the first two quarters. Brown was particularly effective on the fast break.

Brown finished with a team-high 31 points on 11-of-14 shooting, along with six rebounds, one assist and one steal in 35 minutes. He also shot 8-of-10 from the free throw line.

Not only is Brown scoring at a high rate post All-Star break — 27.3 points per game during this stretch — he’s doing it in an efficient manner. Brown is shooting 62 percent from the field and 43.7 percent from 3-point range in the last three games.

Jayson Tatum scored 29 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter as the Celtics put an end to the Sixers’ comeback attempt.

He struggled from 3-point range (1-of-7) but converted 10 of his 11 free throw attempts. Tatum also tallied 11 rebounds and a team-high eight assists in 35 minutes.

Celtics find ways to score without 3-pointers

The Celtics average a league-leading 42.6 3-point shots per game. That’s their identity offensively, and it’s worked out quite well this season. They entered Tuesday with a 41-3 record this season when shooting above 32 percent from 3-point range.

The Celtics also have a tendency to struggle when the 3-pointers aren’t falling. Tuesday’s win was just their fifth when shooting 32 percent or worse from beyond the arc.

The Celtics were 2-of-11 from deep in the first half and finished 5-of-22. It was the first time since 2018 the team has won while making five or fewer 3-pointers.

Philly made an effort to take away 3-pointers, so Boston adjusted offensively and dominated inside, earning a 64-42 advantage in points in the paint. Sure, the absence¬†of reigning MVP center Joel Embiid changes how well the Sixers defend in the paint, but you have to give the Celtics credit for their aggressiveness in attacking the basket. They understood the lack of a shot-blocking presence in the Philly defense and didn’t settle for bad 3-pointers.

One good example came in the fourth quarter when Derrick White found Al Horford with a mismatch under the basket. Horford easily scored with Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey — who’s seven inches shorter — unable to contest the shot. Boston stretched its lead to 97-89 as a result.

There will be games during the playoffs when 3-pointers aren’t falling for the Celtics. If the C’s attack the paint in the same manner they did Tuesday during those games, they’ll avoid some of the offensive issues that have plagued them in recent postseason runs.

C’s maintain wide lead in East standings

The Celtics extended their win streak to nine games, which is the longest active streak in the league. It also ties the longest win streak by any team this season, matching the Orlando Magic. Boston’s last loss was to the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 1.

The C’s are scoring 123.8 points per game during this win streak. They’re also 21-0 at home versus Eastern Conference opponents this season. The Celtics, who own a league-best 46-12 record, are on pace to win 65 games, which they’ve accomplished only three times in their history, most recently in 2007-08 (66 wins).

Boston’s lead atop the Eastern Conference is still 7.5 games over the Cleveland Cavaliers, who defeated the Mavericks on a Max Strus buzzer-beater Tuesday night.

The Celtics will play the Cavs for the third and final time in the regular season next Tuesday in Cleveland.