James Harden is confident after 76ers' playoff win over Celtics: 'We’re coming in here to get Game 2'
When Joel Embiid was ruled out for Game 1 against the Boston Celtics, the Philadelphia 76ers knew they needed a big night from James Harden. That's exactly what they got.
Harden balled out in Game 1, tying a playoff career-high with 45 points on an efficient 17-of-30 shooting to steal homecourt advantage and give the 76ers a surprising 1-0 series lead.
Embiid, who has historically proven to be a thorn in the Celtics' side, averaged a monster 36.8 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists in four games against Boston this season, including a 41-point night in February and a 52-point, 13-rebound explosion in their most recent matchup on April 4.
The MVP frontrunner missed Game 1 with a knee injury he suffered in the first round against the Brooklyn Nets, and while there is optimism he can return to the floor for Game 2 on Wednesday, Harden is confident the 76ers can repeat the trick at TD Garden in Game 2.
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“We didn’t come into the game expecting to lose,” Harden said postgame. “We’re here to win. Even after this one, I told guys don’t get too happy. We’re even-keeled. We’re coming in here to get Game 2 as well.
"That’s the mindset we have as a unit and whether Jo comes back or not, we’re gonna be ready to go … Obviously, he’s everything to this team, but whoever’s on the floor, let’s go win a game. “That’s what we did tonight.”
MORE: NBA Twitter reacts to James Harden's 45 points in 76ers' stunning Game 1 win over Celtics
Harden's Game 1 outing also put Harden alongside some 76ers legends.
Only 5 players in 76ers history have recorded 45+ points in a Playoff game.— NBA History (@NBAHistory) May 2, 2023
Allen Iverson (7 Games)
James Harden pic.twitter.com/9mGCmkMrPN
Harden's first 40-point game in a 76ers uniform — and his first in two years — came at exactly the time the 76ers needed it as he turned back the clock with some trademark finishes at the rim and, of course, his patented stepback 3-pointer.
James Harden's game-winning 3-pointer vs. Celtics
With 8.4 seconds remaining in the game and the 76ers trailing 115-114, Harden turned back the clock.
Isolating Al Horford beyond the 3-point line, Harden hit the Celtics' big man with a hypnotic dribble combination, before rising up for the dagger to put the 76ers in front for good.
James Harden walks through the game-winning 3 that gave him 45 PTS 👀#NBAPlayoffs presented by Google Pixel pic.twitter.com/PgMK8gebJb— NBA (@NBA) May 2, 2023
“I think PJ [Tucker] set the screen and I came off the screen and I was wondering if they were going to put two on the ball,” Harden said.
"So when they cross-screened, I pulled the ball back out, they just stayed on me one-on-one, so then I’m looking up and I’m just ‘Alright, this is what I work on every day’ so I take the best available shot no matter what it is. Just raise up and shoot it.”
76ers vs. Celtics schedule
Here is the complete schedule for the second-round series between Philadelphia and Boston, with games either airing on TNT or ESPN.
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|Date||Game/Result||Time (ET)||TV channel|
|May 1||76ers 119, Celtics 115||7:30 p.m.||TNT|
|May 3||Game 2||8 p.m. at Celtics||TNT|
|May 5||Game 3||7:30 p.m. at 76ers||ESPN|
|May 7||Game 4||3:30 p.m. at 76ers||ESPN|
|May 9||Game 5*||TBD at Celtics||TNT|
|May 11||Game 6*||TBD at 76ers||ESPN|
|May 14||Game 7*||TBD at Celtics||TBD|