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On a December 1, the first-place Celtics hosted the fourth-place 76ers on a rainy night in Boston. It was an electric game that featured multiple ejections and big plays. The Celtics narrowly escaped with a 125–119 win, improving their record to 15–4 and 9–0 at home.

76ers stars Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey were sidelined from play with an injury and illness, respectively. Four other 76ers players were ruled out with various injuries and illnesses. The Celtics didn’t have a clean injury report either with All-Star center Kristaps Porzingis sidelined with a calf strain.

These teams are two of the powers in the Eastern Conference and both are expected to be title contenders this season. The Celtics now lead the season series 2–1. They play one more time in February.

The game got off to an incredible start for the Celtics as merely seconds in. Forward Jaylen Brown stole the ball and slammed it home to start the game. But the 76ers kept calm and scored several baskets to take the lead. A couple big threes from Jrue Holiday and Al Horford brought the game back to a tie.

Celtics star Jayson Tatum dominated early, getting to the free throw line three times and scoring nine points in the first six minutes. The last time the Celtics hosted the 76ers at TD Garden it was Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals and Tatum had a career night, dropping 51 to send the Celtics to the conference finals. However, Tatum’s scoring run ended when he got called for a technical foul that would come back to haunt him and was subbed off.

The first quarter came to an end at 44–36 Celtics after a last-second long three from Celtics forward Sam Hauser. Hauser, a former Wisconsin Gatorade Player of the Year, has taken on a bigger role for the Celtics with the absence of Grant Williams and Malcolm Brogden. Hauser has adapted well to the larger role, earning the nickname “Slam Hauser,'' while averaging almost 10 ppg—a four point increase from his 6 ppg last year.

The second quarter got off to a strong start for the 76ers as they quickly brought the game back from an eight-point deficit to a tie, aided by some big baskets by De'Anthony Melton. That tie would quickly turn into a lead, as 76ers star Tobias Harris hit a couple clutch buckets to give the sixers a seven-point cushion. With the absence of Embiid and Maxey, Harris was the go-to guy on offense alongside Melton. The two combined for 27 first-half points, helping the Sixers gain their biggest lead of the night in the second quarter. The Celtics were able to bring the game back even, but a Marcus Morris Sr. three at the buzzer gave the 76ers a three point lead at the half.

The 76ers lead wouldn’t last long as Jaylen Brown hit a three pointer to give the Celtics an early second half lead. Brown would go on to score several more baskets to help the Celtics jump out to a five-point lead. The Sixers answered right back as Center Mo Bamba scored a rare three—and then did it again a minute later.

With 1.1 seconds remaining in the third quarter a skirmish for the ball resulted in an elbow to the face from Jayson Tatum. The refs gave Tatum his second technical foul of the game, triggering an automatic ejection. His ejection was a crucial moment in the game and it forced the Celtics to adapt without their best scorer.

The Celtic’s didn’t let it faze them as they got right back in the game with a Payton Pritchard three and a couple of Neemias Queta baskets. Then TD Garden erupted, as Pritchard hit a monster three from way downtown to give Boston a three point lead. Tobias Harris got to the rim but was rejected twice by Al Horford to force a Sixers timeout.

Things got heated again with five minutes left on the clock as Melton fouled out while jumping for a loose ball. Then the teams started to trade baskets with about three minutes to go. Horford came up with a big basket, followed by two Brown free throws. The game remained fierce but Philadelphia was forced to call a timeout after the Celtics took a four-point lead with a minute left.

A Patrick Beverley miss set up a long Celtics possession, ending in a game clinching basket by Payton Pritchard. A Sixers three brought the game within four but all they could do was intentionally foul and the game ended in a 125-119 Celtics win.

After the game Jayson Tatum addressed his ejection, saying, “It’s unfortunate but I can’t change what happened.” He expressed annoyance with the refs, adding,“I don’t agree with them, I've seen a lot worse behavior tolerated for a lot longer.” 

After the Celtics lost their leading scorer they had to dig deep and find a way to win the game. Some big defensive plays from Al Horford and Jrue Holiday aided the Celtics in their win.