8 takeaways as Celtics beat 76ers without most of their starting lineup

"When you have guys you can count on regardless, that's kind of a sign of a really good team."

Celtics 76ers
The short-handed Celtics claimed a big win over the 76ers on Wednesday. Erin Clark/Globe Staff

The Celtics beat the 76ers 106-99 without most of their starting lineup in the second half on Wednesday, claiming their second straight win and their fifth in six games.

Here are the takeaways.

1. First (and most importantly), the Celtics will reportedly be without Jaylen Brown for an extended stretch after this brutal hit Jayson Tatum inadvertently administered in the first half as the two stars pursued a rebound.

Brown brushed off a trainer in frustration as he went to the locker room, and Marcus Smart — who also sat out Wednesday’s game — went to the locker room to check on Brown shortly afterward.


Per Shams Charania, Brown suffered a facial fracture and could be out through the All-Star break. Presumably when he returns, he will need to wear some kind of mask.

“He was quiet, he was in a lot of pain,” Malcolm Brogdon said after the game. “Just told him to feel better. There was nothing I think we could do for him. But he was in a lot of pain when he left. We’ll pray for him.”

Brown joined Smart, Al Horford (right knee swelling) and Robert Williams (sprained ankle) on the injury list in the second half, leaving the short-handed Celtics with only Tatum from their projected starting five in the lineup for the second half.

2. So how did the Celtics win against a team with Joel Embiid? With depth and a barrage of 3-pointers. Six players scored in double figures, while four made at least three triples. As a team, the Celtics shot 19-for-35 from behind the arc while the 76ers made just 10-for-31 from deep. Those nine 3-pointers, of course, created a 27-point gap in production between the teams.

“When you have guys you can count on regardless, that’s kind of a sign of a really good team,” Joe Mazzulla told reporters.


Both James Harden and Joel Embiid seemed deflated by the Celtics’ hot shooting after the game.

“That’s the story of the game — they made 10 more threes than us,” Embiid said. “That’s really the game.”

3. Harden in particular seemed broken up about Blake Griffin, who started the game engulfed in flames from behind the arc. The Sixers appeared more than happy to let Griffin shoot in the early going — Embiid helped on drives by both Brown and Tatum to free Griffin for his first two triples. Then Embiid visibly dared Griffin to shoot another from the corner. Griffin canned that one too. He finished the game 5-for-8.

“Like, no disrespect, but that can’t happen,” Harden said. “That’s 15 points that we’re giving up, that’s just difficult to get back from. I think we did a solid job on [Tatum], you know what I mean? But it can’t happen.”

Griffin returned the jab, taking aim at Doc Rivers.

“When a team leaves you open like that, you’ve got to try to make them pay,” Griffin said. “Shooting open shots all night, so it was nice to see some of them go through. …

“I don’t really take it as disrespect. It hurt them. That was their game plan. Obviously Doc makes that game plan. They didn’t adjust, which has been sort of a thing. No disrespect though.”


4. Derrick White has been brilliant all season, but particularly so over the last few weeks as the Celtics have dealt with injuries. White — who is yet to miss a game this season — is shooting 44 percent on five attempts from deep over his last five.

On Wednesday, White joined Malcolm Brogdon as a leading scorer for the Celtics with 19 on 8-for-13 shooting from the field. He also sent a layup in transition by Tobias Harris off the glass with a ridiculous chase-down block.

“I mean, it was my turnover to start it all off,” White said. “Blake was wide open, and I just made a lazy pass so I was just trying to get it back and go up there and make a play, and I was able to get it. And Sam [Hauser] obviously hit that big 3 in the corner, and that was a good momentum swing for us. It kind of started with my turnover, but I had to find a way to get it back.”

5. Hauser seems to have found his shot again — he shot 5-for-6 from the field and 4-for-4 on Wednesday after going 5-for-9 from deep in his first NBA game as a starter on Monday. Hauser raised the Celtics’ ceiling into the stratosphere early in the season with his 3-point shooting, which helps explain how the Celtics beat the 76ers so short-handed on Wednesday when he was on target.

Keep an eye on how Hauser impacts the Celtics over the next few weeks. He needs to prove he can stay hot, but if he keeps making shots, the Celtics are a devastating basketball team.


6. Tatum didn’t even play particularly well, scoring just 12 points on 5-for-15 shooting. He did come just two rebounds and an assist short of a triple-double, and his floater in the final minute was one of two dagger baskets that appeared to finish off the Sixers (the second was a 3-pointer by White).

“I thought JT, honestly, had an extremely well-rounded game,” Brogdon said. “Super unselfish. If he wasn’t as unselfish as he was everybody couldn’t have contributed the way they did, and we wouldn’t have won the game. To have a superstar and MVP candidate be that unselfish and not be worried about his points — especially in an ESPN game against Joel Embiid —  there’s a lot on the line and a lot going on.

“If he was selfish, he would come out and get his 40 points. But he wants to win, man. So my hat goes off to him especially.”

7. The Celtics now hold a four-game lead over the third-place 76ers in the standings. After showdowns against Charlotte and Memphis, they will face the second-place Bucks next week hoping to build a little space on their 1.5-game lead as well.

8. And as an eighth takeaway, Kevin Durant was traded to the Suns while this column was being written. That didn’t really have anything to do with the Celtics vs. the 76ers, but how can you go without mentioning it?

The Celtics take on the Hornets at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.


This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on Boston.com