James Harden rolls back the years to produce an epic performance as Sixers beat Celtics

Boston, Massachusetts - The Philadelphia Sixers battled hard, overcame the Boston Celtics' shooting, and benefited from an epic performance from James Harden in a 119-115 Game 1 victory at TD Garden in the NBA playoffs.

Philadelphia Sixers star James Harden scored 45 points on 17 of 30 shots and tied a season high with seven three-pointers against the Boston Celtics.
Philadelphia Sixers star James Harden scored 45 points on 17 of 30 shots and tied a season high with seven three-pointers against the Boston Celtics.  © USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Connect

Harden proved more than enough to replace the injured Joel Embiid. He finished with a game-high 45 points on 17 of 30 shots and tied a season high with seven three-pointers. He had 15 points in the fourth quarter, in a game reminiscent of his time as a three-time scoring champion with the Houston Rockets.

The first period saw several big players make an impact, but no moment was more influential than Tyrese Maxey's steal. He stepped in the passing lane on an arrant Malcolm Brogdon pass and scored a breakway layup to give the Sixers a 114-113 lead with 28.9 seconds left.

However, Jayson Tatum was fouled by Tobias Harris on the ensuing possession. He made a pair of foul shots to put the Celtics up one point. Then Harden responded with a three-pointer with 8.4 seconds left to put the Sixers up, 117-115.

Coach Kerr and the Warriors agree to record-setting contract extension
NBA Coach Kerr and the Warriors agree to record-setting contract extension

Paul Reed, who started in place of Embiid, hit a pair of foul shots with 4.6 seconds left to make it a five-point game.

The two sides meet again on Wednesday in Boston, with Embiid's fitness still an unknown at this point.

Cover photo: USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Connect

More on NBA: