Kemba Walker, Celtics Sweep Joel Embiid, 76ers in 2020 NBA Playoffs

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistAugust 23, 2020

Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker (8) shoots past Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, right, during the first quarter of Game 4 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)
Kim Klement/Associated Press

The Boston Celtics completed their first-round playoff sweep of the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday with a 110-106 win in Game 4 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Boston was without forward Gordon Hayward for the third consecutive game due to an ankle injury, but All-Star guard Kemba Walker rose to the occasion and led all scorers, while Jayson Tatum posted another double-double.

Philly clearly missed injured All-Star point guard Ben Simmons once again, as the Sixers lacked a go-to playmaker and finished the game with just 12 assists.

The Sixers are now heading home, while the Celtics will wait to see who they will be facing in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Notable Stats

Kemba Walker, G, BOS: 8/15 FG, 32 PTS, 4 AST, 4 REB

Jayson Tatum, F, BOS: 10/18 FG, 28 PTS, 15 REB, 4 AST

Jaylen Brown, G, BOS: 6/15 FG, 16 PTS, 5 REB

Joel Embiid, C, PHI: 8/18 FG, 30 PTS, 10 REB, 3 STL

Tobias Harris, F, PHI: 7/12 FG, 20 PTS, 5 REB

Al Horford, F, PHI: 12 PTS, 10 REB, 3 AST

Walker, Tatum Send Celtics into Second Round

The star-studded Celtics can get big-time production from several different players on their roster on any given day, but it was the All-Star duo of Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum that stepped up Sunday.

Boston was getting outshot by Philly and losing the turnover battle by a significant margin at halftime, but thanks to Walker's awesome individual effort, the Celtics trailed by just one point.

As seen in this highlight package, Walker scored from all over the floor during the opening 24 minutes:


Kemba with the hot hand in the 1st half of Game 4, dropping 20 for the @celtics! #NBAPlayoffs #NBAonABC https://t.co/Re6PuPtdIb

Celtics Blog questioned why the 76ers were so willing to give Walker plenty of room to operate throughout the first half:

CelticsBlog @celticsblog

Sixers giving Kemba the room that teams usually give Ben Simmons is ...interesting.

Walker also showed off his impressive handles by sending Sixers center Joel Embiid to the floor with a killer crossover:


Kemba just snatched Embiid's ankles 😳 https://t.co/uAvFj68rC9

Kemba had 20 points at the break, which gave him three consecutive playoff games with at least 20 points for the first time in his career:

Boston Celtics @celtics

Kemba Walker has reached the 20-point mark for the third consecutive game. He'd never tallied 20+ points in back-to-back playoff games entering this postseason. (via @celtics_stats) https://t.co/cR3wgEmlVn

Walker was a factor in the second half as well, but it was Tatum who truly shined, especially in the third quarter.

With the Celtics already on a 9-0 run to close out the quarter, Tatum buried a huge three just before the buzzer to give Boston a 12-point advantage entering the final frame:

Boston Celtics @celtics

THAT'S HOW YOU CLOSE OUT THE THIRD🔥🔥🔥 https://t.co/wiUS10Bisk

Philadelphia had played Boston tough all game and led for stretches, but that Tatum trifecta seemed to have a demoralizing effect.

Boston's victory gave Walker the first playoff series win of his career after eight years with the Charlotte Hornets franchise.

With Walker and Tatum both in top form, the Celtics will undoubtedly be a tough out in the second round of the playoffs and perhaps beyond.


Harris Injury Sinks Sixers' Hopes

Sixers forward Tobias Harris was much-maligned entering Sunday's Game 4, but his absence late in the third quarter and for much of the fourth played a pivotal role in Philly's loss.

Harris was leading the 76ers with 16 points when a scary incident occurred in the closing minutes of the third quarter.

While going up for a rebound, Harris had his legs cut out from under him, and he landed head first on the court:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Tobias Harris is down on the court. Prayers up 🙏 https://t.co/WPXm3Wcr3E

Harris was down and bleeding, and the trainers tending to him called for extra help. Despite that, Harris was able to make it back to his feet, per Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:

Chris Mannix @SIChrisMannix

Tobias Harris is sitting up after a hard fall. Holding a towel to the right side of his head. Now being slowly helped up by trainers.

After walking to the locker room under his own power, it was reported by ESPN's Malika Andrews that Harris had suffered a left eye laceration and was being evaluated for a concussion:

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

Tobias Harris has been diagnosed with a left eye laceration and is being evaluated for a concussion, per @malika_andrews. https://t.co/zvqYMr2Fr4

The Celtics were up by three points when Harris went out, but after he left the game, they went on a 9-0 run and led by 12 entering the fourth quarter.

Sixers coach Brett Brown acknowledged how big the loss of Harris was during his interview with ESPN in between the third and fourth quarters.

Harris shockingly returned about midway through the fourth quarter, but the Sixers were still down 12 at that point, and the damage had already been done.

Now, the 76ers front office will regroup and decide whether the core of Embiid, Simmons, Harris and Al Horford will be good enough to compete for championships in the coming seasons.


What's Next?

The Celtics will get ready for their second-round opponent, which will most likely be the defending NBA champion Toronto Raptors, while the Sixers must enter offseason mode.