Despite the absence of superstar centre Joel Embiid, the Philadelphia 76ers have pulled off an almighty shock with a 119-115 victory over the Boston Celtics in Game One of their Eastern Conference semi-finals clash.
Embiid missed his second-straight game with a knee injury, leaving James Harden to do the heavy lifting for the Sixers at the TD Garden in Boston.
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Harden stepped up to the plate and then some, chalking up a staggering 45 points to tie his career-high for most points in a playoff game.
The bearded star shot 17 from 30 with seven three-pointers to boot in a dazzling display.
Sixers teammates Tyrese Maxey chipped in with 26 points while Paul Reed bagged a double-double thanks to his 10-point haul and 13 rebounds.
The Celtics had a big game from Jayson Tatum who chalked up 39 points and 11 rebounds, but it was not to be for the home side.
Boston raced out to a 38-31 lead in the opening quarter and despite a fightback from the Sixers in the second period, the home side took a 66-63 lead into halftime.
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Philadelphia continued to chip away at Boston’s lead and eventually got there as the score was tied at 87-87 going into the final period.
It seemed as if neither side wanted to hold the lead in the fourth quarter as the Sixers and Celtics traded the advantage with what seemed like every play.
Harden continued to be a pest from range while the Celtics’ Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown chalked up several points.
The lead continued to change hands like a hot potato and it seemed a last-gasp blunder from Boston’s Malcolm Brogdon handed the Sixers the game.
With the ball in hand, Brogdon looked to pass it to a teammate but instead handed it straight to Tyrese Maxey who raced up the other end of the court for an easy lay-up.
The Celtics then got two points back at the free-throw line to leave just over 24 seconds left on the clock.
Harden grabbed the ball and slowly marched his way up the court before sinking a three-pointer with eight seconds left to tie his career-high for most points in a playoff game.
It proved to be the killer blow as the Sixers held on for a stunning victory.