(Photo credit: USA TODAY Sports via Reuters/Winslow Townson)
Boston (55-27) did not have starting shooting guard Jaylen Brown for their Eastern Conference semifinal series opener Monday night due to a strained hamstring, but he was not missed as the Celtics rolled to a 117-101 victory.
Marcus Smart, who did not make his first appearance in the postseason until Game 5 of Boston's first-round victory over Milwaukee due to a thumb injury, had nine points and nine assists in his first start in these playoffs, but it was the trio of Terry Rozier, Al Horford and rookie Jayson Tatum who more than compensated for Brown as they teamed up for 83 points.
Rozier, who has shined since All-Star guard Kyrie Irving was lost for the season with a knee injury, hit seven of nine from 3-point range and finished with a playoff career-high of 29 points, and the veteran Horford made ten of 12 shots and added 26 to match a postseason career best.
Tatum, the third overall pick, mixed his offensive arsenal and also set a personal playoff standard with 28 points, sinking 11 of 12 from the foul line and going eight of 16 from the field. The Celtics made 17 of 35 from 3-point range and took full advantage of Philadelphia's mistakes, scoring 23 points off 12 turnovers as they improved to 5-0 at home in the playoffs.
Joel Embiid paced the 76ers with a playoff career high of 31 points and rookie Ben Simmons totaled 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists, but he also committed seven turnovers. Philadelphia failed to deliver from 3-point range, shooting a postseason-low 19.2 percent as they made just five of 26. J. J. Redick was two of seven from beyond the arc while Dario Saric, Robert Covington and Ersan Ilyasova combined to miss all 11 of their tries from deep.
It was just the second loss in 22 games for the 76ers, who closed the regular season with a franchise-record 16-game winning streak before knocking out the Miami Heat in five games in the first round.
The series will shift to Philadelphia for Game 3 on Saturday.