LONDON – New year, new country, same old Celtics.
Just a few miles away from Big Ben, the London Eye and several longstanding attractions here in London, the Celtics introduced their British and European fans to what we in the states have seen from them often – The Big Comeback.
The Celtics trailed by as many as 22 in the first half to the Philadelphia 76ers, only to come roaring back in the second half to finish with a different kind of blowout in winning 114-103 Thursday at O2 Arena.
Jaylen Brown had a game-high 21 points, with Kyrie Irving chipping in with 20. Jayson Tatum (16 points) and Marcus Morris (19) had strong games as well.
Philadelphia’s J.J. Redick led the way with 22 points with Joel Embiid chipping in with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
For Boston (34-10), the victory extended their winning streak to seven in a row - the longest current winning streak in the NBA. Boston also improved to 11-8 this season in games in which they trailed at halftime, a clear sign of how this team has usually been able to bounce back after a lackluster start.
Meanwhile, the Sixers (19-20) had their four-game winning streak come to a screeching halt as they lost for the seventh time this season in a game in which they led by 11 or more.
After a sluggish start, Boston closed out the half with a 21-8 run and opened the third quarter with a Jayson Tatum 3-pointer that cut Philadelphia’s lead to 57-51, prompting Sixers head coach Brett Brown to call a time-out just 39 seconds into the second half.
Philadelphia has blown more than its share of big leads this season, and Brown sensed they might be on the verge of another colossal collapse if he didn’t try and slow down Boston’s ever-increasing momentum.
Boston made it a one-possession game following a 3-pointer by Kyrie Irving, only for Sixers rookie Ben Simmons to cruise in for an uncontested dunk seconds later.
The Celtics eventually took their first lead of the game on a dunk by Daniel Theis with six minutes to play in the third quarter.
Boston would lead by as many as seven points (77-70) following a 3-pointer by Morris before the quarter ended with the Celtics ahead, 85-79.
The Celtics struggled mightily in the first half with the Sixers pulling ahead by as many as 22.
But when it comes to Boston, no deficit is too much for them to rally from and make things at least competitive.
Boston began to make things interesting after an Irving 3-pointer made it a 56-40 game. Boston continued to chip away at Philly’s lead, getting it down to 56-44 following a breakaway lay-up by Brown.
The Celtic comeback continued as Boston managed to cut Philly’s lead to single digits following a put-back dunk by Jaylen Brown which capped off a 21-8 run by Boston to close out the second quarter which brought Boston within 57-48 at the half.