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HomeSportsBasketballJayson Tatum drops 51 as Celtics rout Sixers in Game 7

Jayson Tatum drops 51 as Celtics rout Sixers in Game 7

BOSTON — As Jayson Tatum connected on another 3-pointer midway through a third quarter on Sunday — en route to outscoring the Philadelphia 76ers in the period by himself — he turned to a raucous Boston crowd and let out a cathartic yell.

“This is my s—” he said.

Tatum scored 51 points, the most in a Game 7 in NBA history, to lead the Celtics to a 112-88 victory to advance to the Eastern Conference finals. Tatum broke the record set two weeks ago by Stephen Curry, who scored 50 points in Game 7 of the Golden State Warriors‘ first-round series against the Sacramento Kings.

Tatum went 17-of-28 from the field and added 13 rebounds and five assists, the fifth player in NBA history with at least 50-10-5 in a playoff game.

After struggling through one of the worst shooting nights of his career in Game 6, Tatum responded with one of the best performances in franchise history. He scored or assisted on 62 points in Game 7, outshining the Sixers’ star duo of Joel Embiid (15 points) and James Harden (nine points), who combined to score or assist for 44 points.

The Celtics advanced to the conference finals for the second consecutive season and the fifth time in the past seven seasons. They will host the Miami Heat in Game 1 on Wednesday night. Boston opened as a -500 favorites to beat the Heat (+380) at Caesars Sportsbook.

Tatum called Sunday a chance for the Celtics to redeem themselves after getting routed in their last game in Boston, drawing boos from the home crowd. But Tatum also could have been referring to himself after he went 1-for-13 through the first three quarters of Game 6.

It was clear he was ready to respond from the beginning of Game 7. Tatum scored 25 points in the first half after scoring 18 points in the first half of Games 4, 5 and 6 combined.

Boston raced past Philadelphia in the third quarter, outscoring the Sixers 33-10 to break the game open. Tatum scored 17 points in the third quarter alone, nearly doubling the Sixers’ total and pushing the game out of reach.

The Celtics rallied from down 3-2 in the series with two consecutive victories to close it out. It mirrored the situation the Celtics faced in last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals, when Boston came back from down 3-2 vs. Milwaukee to advance to the conference finals.

“You always come into a series with the expectation of how it’s supposed to go,” said Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla, who is in his first year as an NBA head coach after being promoted on the eve of training camp after Ime Udoka was suspended. “That’s not how the playoffs are.”

As the final seconds of the fourth quarter ticked off the clock, Boston fans began chanting, “Beat the Heat. Beat the Heat.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

This story originally appeared on ESPN

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