Jayson Tatum Tears Through Sixers With Historic 51-Point Game 7 (112-88); Celtics Join Heat, Lakers & Nuggets in “Bubble Repeat” Conference Finals
Superstars have had some amazing performances in this year’s NBA postseason, from Steph Curry’s 50-piece to Jimmy Butler’s 56 and Nikola Jokic’s 53, but nobody has had a more clutch performance in the 2023 NBA Playoffs than Jayson Tatum’s Game 7 on Sunday. The 25-year-old superstar — who had disappeared and reappeared repeatedly throughout the postseason — exploded for 51 points in a Game 7 blowout to lead the Celtics over the 76ers (112-88) and send Boston through to the Eastern Conference Finals. That performance came on Sunday after the Lakers and Heat won their respective Game 6s to eliminate the Warriors and Knicks.
Game 7, The Tatum Tornado: The Celtics and Sixers were tied (55-55) with 11-plus minutes left in the third quarter of Sunday’s Game 7 before Tatum sparked a 24-3 run over the course of the next six minutes. He had 17 of his 51 in the third quarter, mostly during that six-minute stretch, while Jaylen Brown, Malcolm Brogdon, Derrick White, and Marcus Smart also rained 3s throughout the period and put the Sixers to bed. Boston outscored Philly 33-10 in the third and JT entered the fourth with 42 and counting. Tatum’s 51 were the most points in a Game 7 in NBA history, breaking Steph Curry’s record (50) set just a few weeks ago. And the Celtics, after trailing in the series (3-2), are returning to the Eastern Conference Finals for the fifth time in seven years.
Rivers of Tears: 76ers head coach Doc Rivers has now lost 10 Game 7s in his coaching career, five more than any other head coach in NBA history. Joel Embiid (15) and James Harden (9) combined for just 24 points in Game 7.
Déjà Vu Bubble: The four remaining teams in the conference finals are the same final four from the 2020 NBA bubble experiment — Nuggets, Lakers, Celtics, and Heat. That season ended with the Lakers beating the Heat in the NBA Finals. And even though many people discredited the bubble playoffs as a fluke or a postseason with an asterisk, the same four are back. We’ll have more on this storyline later this week.
Conference Semifinals Highlights
Gm 6: Heat def. Knicks (96-92) | MIA Wins (4-2)
Gm 6: Lakers def. Warriors (122-101) | LAL Wins (4-2)
Gm 7: Celtics def. 76ers (112-88) | BOS Wins (4-3)
J. Tatum (BOS): 51 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists
J. Brunson (NYK): 41 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists
L. James (LAL): 30 points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists
J. Butler (MIA): 24 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists
NBA Conference Finals Schedule
Gm 1: #7 Lakers at #1 Nuggets (Tues. 8:30 pm ET)
Gm 1: #8 Heat at #2 Celtics (Wed. 8:30 pm ET,)
Fun Fact: The Lakers (7) and Heat (8) are the highest seeds to reach the conference finals since the 1999 Knicks (8). It’s the first time in NBA postseason history that both a 7 and 8-seed are in the final four. Only four 7-seeds and one 8-seed have ever gone this far into the playoffs.
The Ringer: The Lakers Have Recaptured Their Championship Formula
CBS Sports: Ranking All 12 Series of the 2023 NBA Playoffs, So Far
NBA.com: NBA Stars React to Jayson Tatum’s 51-Point Masterpiece in Game 7
Image via Giphy/Boston Celtics