BOSTON -- As Jayson Tatum connected on another 3-pointer midway through the third quarter on Sunday -- en route to outscoring the Philadelphia 76ers in the period itself -- he turned to a raucous Boston crowd and let out a cathartic scream.
Tatum scored 51 points, the most in a Game 7 in NBA history, to lead the Celtics to a 112–88 victory to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. Tatum broke the record set two weeks ago by Stephen Curry, who scored 50 points in Game 7 of the Golden State Warriors' first-round series against the Sacramento Kings.
Tatum went 17 of 28 from the field and added 13 rebounds and five assists, becoming the fifth player in NBA history with at least 50-10-5 in a playoff game.
"It's a movie," Celtics guard Marcus Smart said. "It's a big movie. Just being able to sit back, eat your popcorn and watch."
After struggling through one of the worst shooting nights of his career in Game 6, Tatum responded with one of the best performances in franchise history. He scored or assisted 62 points in Game 7, surpassing Sixers stars Joel Embiid (15 points) and James Harden (nine points), who combined to score or assist for 44 points.
Tatum scored all 51 points in the half court, against five different defenders, including 17 points against 2023 NBA MVP Embiid. Tatum finished fourth in the award voting this season, a career-best finish, but the sold-out crowd at TD Garden chanted "MVP" for him after the game.
Before the game, Tatum called a chance for the Celtics on Sunday after losing their last game in Boston, drawing boos from the home crowd. Tatum got off to a horrible start in Game 6, shooting 1-for-13 through the first three quarters before getting hot late.
"I was really excited for this moment, to come out and play today," Tatum said after Sunday's game. "It was definitely in my head that I played as bad as I did for 42, 43 minutes.
It was clear he was ready to respond from the start of Game 7. Tatum scored 25 points in the first half after scoring 18 points in the first half in Games 4, 5 and 6 combined.