Jaylen Brown scored 25 points and the Boston Celtics outscored the Philadelphia 76ers 121-87 on Wednesday night, spoiling the return of reigning league MVP Joel Embiid.

The Celtics tied the series at one game apiece when the Eastern Conference semifinal series moves to Philadelphia for Game 3 on Friday.

Malcolm Brogdon added 23 points, hitting six of Boston’s 20 3-pointers. Derrick White and Marcus Smart each added 15 points. Jayson Tatum played most of the game in foul trouble and was held to seven points.


Boston Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla calls his players during the first half of Game 2 in the NBA Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers, Wednesday, May 3, 2023. , in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Boston stepped up its defense and limited a 76ers team that made 17 3-pointers in their Game 1 win to just 6-for-30 from beyond the arc on Wednesday. The Celtics came to have a lead of up to 36 points in the fourth quarter.

Tobias Harris led the 76ers with 16 points. Embiid finished with 15 points, three rebounds and five blocks in his first game after a sprained right knee that caused him to miss the final game of the 76ers’ first-round sweep of Brooklyn. He, too, sat out Philadelphia’s Game 1 victory on Monday.

Embiid’s return came a day after he was voted MVP for the first time.

Doctors and coaching staff cleared him to play after a pregame on-court workout. That was after he did some light work during the 76ers’ morning practice.

Tatum caught three fouls in the first half. He was called up for his quarter at the 7:34 mark of the third quarter when he tackled Harden to the ground while trying to get through a screen.

It forced him to play a little less aggressive and helped Philadelphia cut what had been an 18-point Boston lead to 73-60 with just over four minutes left in the third quarter.

Al Horford celebrates

Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) celebrates after hitting a 3-pointer against the Philadelphia 76ers during the first half of Game 2 in the NBA Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series, Wednesday, May 3 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)


But Tatum’s teammates picked up the slack, leading the way as the Celtics closed out the quarter on a 19-5 run to climb back to 92-65 entering the fourth.

Embiid started slowly on offense, but with the 76ers struggling to make shots from the outside, he made an almost immediate impact defensively.

First, he blocked an early shot by Smart and then forced White to adjust another try. Embiid had five blocks in his first 13 minutes of action.

But his conditioning was noticeably lacking as he lumbered through sets at times. He played nearly seven minutes in the first quarter before resting for the first time. He returned for the final 1:05 of the period.

Embiid made his first field goal of the night. a leap over Grant Williams, with 21.4 seconds remaining before tripping as he backed down the court. He quickly got to his feet. He finished the first half with 13 points, going 7-of-8 from the free throw line.

Joel Embiid returns in Game 2 vs Celtics

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid passes the ball as it is covered by Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) during the first half of Game 2 in the Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series of the NBA, on Wednesday, May 3, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)



76ers: Shot 1-for-13 from 3-point line in the first half. … They didn’t get their first offensive rebound until 9:41 of the second quarter

Celtics: Tatum’s seven points marked the first time he was held to single digits in a playoff game since Game 2 of Boston’s 2021 first-round series against Brooklyn, when he was nine. … Boston led 57-49 at halftime. … Had just three turnovers in the first 24 minutes.

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