James Harden Puts Celtics on Notice Following Game 1 Outburst

Jayson Tatum, James Harden, Boston Celtics

Getty Jayson Tatum, James Harden, Boston Celtics

On May 1, the Boston Celtics fell to a shock defeat against a short-handed Philadelphia 76ers team, courtesy of a throwback game from veteran guard James Harden.

When speaking to the media as part of his post-game press conference, Harden was full of confidence as he shared his team’s mindset and what they intend to do when they face the Celtics again on May 3.

“We are here to win,” Harden said. “Even after this game, I told the guys, don’t get too happy. We’re even keel. We’re coming here to get game two as well. That’s the mindset we have as a unit. Whether Joel comes back or not, we’ll be ready to go.”

In Joel Embiid‘s absence, Harden re-discovered the scoring nous that saw him named league MVP in 2018, putting the Celtics on the back foot early before running up an impressive statline of 45 points, 6 assists, 1 rebound, and 2 steals while shooting 56.7% from the field, and 50% from deep.

Jayson Tatum Urges Celtics to Up Their Intensity

When speaking to the press following Boston’s loss in the opening game of their second-round playoff series, Jayson Tatum gave a blunt assessment of what’s currently hurting his team.

“I think we just allow guys to be a little too comfortable at times…We definitely can be better,” Tatum said. “Sometimes we give up too many offensive rebounds, and that hurts us, second and third chances opportunities. I think it’s all about picking up our pressure and trying to make people uncomfortable. Because when people are comfortable, you know, everybody’s talented, and they just feel a little bit more free out there.”

Boston was widely expected to defeat the Sixers in their May 1 encounter due to the absence of Embiid. However, the Celtics struggled to control the game, allowing Philadelphia to punish Boston’s lackluster defense, wasting an impressive Tatum performance in the process.

In 43 minutes of playing time, Tatum produced 39 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1 steal while shooting 56% from the field and 80% from deep.

Malcolm Brogdon Rues Celtics Poor Defense

A significant part of Boston’s inability to close out the Sixers was that their defense continued to allow second and third-chance opportunities, an issue that was not present this time last year as the team charged toward the NBA Finals.

During his own post-game press conference, Sixth Man of the Year Malcolm Brogdon gave a candid overview of what went wrong with Boston’s defensive effort throughout the contest.

“Honestly, we didn’t get stops all night long,” Brogdon said. “That’s really the answer. We didn’t get the stops we needed. We played good initial defense and then have some type of breakdown for a layup or open three. And then I don’t think we came out in the second half the right way, came out, played a little bit sloppy, a few turnovers.”

After losing their series opener in front of their hometown crowd, the Celtics will now be under pressure to even up their series on May 3. Otherwise, Boston could find themselves in the unenviable position of having to claw their way back into the contest while playing games three and four at the Wells Fargo Center.