Heading into Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinals matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers up 3-0 Ryan Schraeder Jersey , the Boston Celtics aren’t about to get caught looking past a team that entered the series winners in 20 of 21 games.
That much was made clear by Jaylen Brown after the Celtics’ 101-98 overtime win in Game 3 on Saturday at Wells Fargo Center.
“We shouldn’t get caught up,” Brown told reporters after reporters told him that head coach Brad Stevens said the team shouldn’t get ‘caught up’ with a big series lead. “We gotta finish the drill. I’m not one that was ever taught to play with our food, so when it comes down to it, we gotta finish it. It’s first to four, so we gotta take care of business.”
The Celtics have already taken three big bites out of the 76ers.
Philadelphia, though, won’t go down easy.
It’s not as if Boston has dominated the series: the 76ers led by 22 points in a 108-103 loss in Game 2 and led Game 3 by six late in the second quarter.
But Ben Simmons needs to re-emerge as the triple-double force he was late in the regular season. After scoring just one point in Game 2, Simmons had 16, with eight rebounds and eight steals, but he also turned the ball over four times and had a plus/minus ratio of negative-11.
Worse, Simmons missed a critical shot at just the wrong time, which prompted him to say he has some “learning to do.” With less than 30 seconds left in overtime, Joel Embiid missed a jumper and Simmons rebounded the ball with 18 seconds left on the clock. Rather than milk the time Shaun Alexander Jersey , Simmons tried a putback, missed, and Boston’s Marcus Morris grabbed the rebound.
Al Horford scored with 5.5 seconds left to put the Celtics up.
“Young guys at time look young,” Brown said. “We’re going to have to find places in this experience, and learn from it, and that’s a great example of one of them.”
While Simmons is struggling his first second-round series, Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum continues to thrive. Tatum scored 24 points on 11 for 17 shooting in Game 3, after scoring 21 in Game 2 and 28 in Game 1. During the playoffs, he now has seven 20-point games, including five straight, with a 19-point game, as well.
“No moment is too big (for Tatum),” Stevens said after the game. “He’s got guts. He’s a competitive guy. Sometimes I think we misconstrue some of these slight guys when they come out of college for not being tough but he’s tough and very competitive.””
Forget the players Tavon Young Jersey , though.
Much of the talk after Game 3 was about Stevens, and his “genius” play call coming out of a time out toward the end of the overtime period, which resulted in Horford’s layup.
“Sometimes he draws stuff up, and I look at it, I’m like (confused),” Horford said after the game. “But Marcus delivered it, great pass. I missed some shots that I normally make there, but I made that one, so it was good.”
Mookie Betts was so excited he nearly tripped when his feet got tangled on the way to first base.
Boston’s normally mild-mannered right fielder let loose with some emotion after ending a marathon at-bat with a grand slam that helped lead the Red Sox to a 6-4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday night.
”I almost went down,” Betts said with a chuckle after going 2 for 4 with five RBIs. ”I had to depend on my athletic ability and it came through that time.”
That ability has Betts leading the majors in batting and the Red Sox riding a 10-game winning streak to the best record in the big leagues. Boston has the longest current winning streak in the majors and hasn’t lost since getting routed 11-1 at Yankee Stadium on July 1.
Betts fouled off seven pitches from All-Star lefty J.A. Happ before driving the 13th pitch well over the Green Monster and out of Fenway Park to put the Red Sox up 5-2 in the fourth inning. Betts turned to his dugout and shouted at teammates in celebration, then almost lost his footing on the way to first base.
”Since I’ve been in the big leagues, that’s probably the most excited that I’ve been,” said Betts Albert McClellan Jersey , who added an RBI single in the seventh and increased his batting average to .352.
David Price (10-6) struck out eight over 6 2/3 innings for Boston, and Craig Kimbrel earned his 29th save.
Teoscar Hernandez hit a two-run homer in the first and Kendrys Morales had a solo homer for Toronto, which has lost four of five.
Happ (10-6) started strong for Toronto, striking out six and holding Boston to two hits before running into trouble and some misfortune in the fourth. The Red Sox capitalized on a missed fly ball and a video review that erased what would have been the second out while scoring five runs – all unearned – before the inning ended.
”You’re not going to see many innings like that. I don’t think I could even describe it,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
Happ threw 46 pitches in the inning, 13 to Betts as he fouled off a string of five straight and caught a break when a popup bounced out of first baseman Justin Smoak’s glove after he ran it down in foul territory and attempted an over-the-shoulder catch. Betts worked Happ to a full count, then cleared the bases with his 23rd homer of the season and fourth career grand slam.
Happ loaded the bases with a walk to No. 9 hitter Jackie Bradley Jr., who was batting .202. Happ also threw a wild pitch while walking Bradley in an inning that was extended when Boston successfully challenged a force at second on a fielder’s choice.
”I felt good tonight and I felt like my stuff was sharp,” Happ said. ”I don’t know if they got a ball out of the infield before that homer, so that’s tough to take.”
After Hernandez’s two-run homer soared deep into the center-field seats, Price didn’t allow another run until Morales led off the seventh with another shot to center that pulled the Blue Jays to 5-3.
Smoak hit an RBI double on a drive to center in the eighth, when a fan in the front row interfered with the ball and Randal Grichuk scored to pull the Blue Jays to 6-4.
Boston is on its longest streak since winning 11 straight in September 2016. At 66-29, the Red Sox are 37 games over .500 for the first time since 1949.
”It seems like everything is clicking right now Derrick Thomas Jersey ,” manager Alex Cora said. ”The bullpen has been outstanding. The starters are going deep into games. Yeah, it feels that way.”
Price could hear the boos before Hernandez’s homer had a chance to land, but left to a standing ovation after allowing three runs and six hits.
Cora said Price deserved the recognition for recovering the way he did after the first inning. Cora said Price’s performance in the fifth after the long rally by Boston’s offense was a key to the Red Sox winning.
”David was outstanding,” Cora said. ”I loved the use of the changeup back-to-back. We haven’t seen that in a while.”
Red Sox: 1B Steve Pearce exited after the second inning, when he was hit on the left ankle by a pitch from Happ. Pearce needed several minutes before going to first base and was replaced by Blake Swihart in the top of the third.
Blue Jays: LHP Ryan Borucki (0-1, 2.25 ERA) gets his fourth career start after a no-decision Sunday, when he held the New York Yankees to one run and seven hits over seven innings.
Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (11-3, 3.58) has won three of four starts and already matched his victory total from last season.
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