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StormTeam 5 tracking severe thunderstorms
Source:  News South Of Boston
Sunday, 23 August 2020 18:39

The National Weather Service said areas under the severe thunderstorm warnings should expect wind damage to trees and power lines. Minor hail damage to vehicles is possible.

Emergency postal aid stalls as White House rejects House-passed bill
Source:  WHDH-TV - Home
Sunday, 23 August 2020 18:36

WASHINGTON (AP) — Help for the U.S. Postal Service landed in stalemate Sunday as the White House dismissed an emergency funding bill aimed at shoring up the agency before the November elections as “going nowhere� and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged senators to act quickly.

“The public is demanding action on this now,� Pelosi said. “I can’t see how the Senate can avoid it unless they do so to their peril.�

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows rejected the legislation the House passed late Saturday to provide $25 billion and block operational changes by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. Meadows called it a “political statement,� stressing that President Donald Trump would consider additional money only as part of a broader coronavirus relief package.

“That bill was not a serious bill,� Meadows said. “And my conversations with a lot of the Democrats on Capitol Hill yesterday is, if you want to be serious about it, this president is willing to put forth money and reforms.�

Meadows said he planned to speak with Pelosi later Sunday. The legislation heads to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has been eyeing a $10 billion postal rescue as part of the next COVID-19 relief package.

“Hopefully what will happen is the Republican senators will take this bill when it comes across, they’ll amend it and actually address many of the things that are hurting America right now in terms of this pandemic response and be able to get it to the president’s desk,� Meadows said.

Pelosi, however, called Meadows’ proposals “bare leaves,� saying they don’t address children facing food insecurity, people grappling with evictions, coronavirus testing and treatment or money for state and local governments.

“What they want to do is not the right path,� she said Sunday. “All the president wants is this one thing: He wants his name on the letter to go out with a check in it, and he doesn’t care about the rest of it.�

With heated debate over mail delays, the House approved the legislation in a rare Saturday session. More than two dozen House Republicans broke with the president in backing the bill, which passed 257-150. Trump had urged a no vote, railing against mail-in ballots expected to surge in the COVID-19 crisis, and the White House said he would veto it if it reached his desk. Millions of people are expected to opt for mail-in ballots to avoid polling places during the pandemic.

But McConnell criticized the legislation as part of a postal “conspiracy theory,� echoing similar sentiments during a lively House floor debate.

“The USPS is equipped to handle this election, and if a real need arises, Congress will meet it,� he said Saturday in a statement.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Sunday he had secured agreement with the Postal Service’s Board of Governors’ new election committee to issue a report in two weeks on the service’s plans to address a surge of mail-in ballots during the November elections. Under the agreement with the committee’s Democratic chairman, Lee Moak, the committee would also provide weekly briefings for top Senate Democrats.

The six-member Board of Governors, all of whom are Trump appointees, announced the bipartisan committee Friday to oversee mail voting.

“Congress will use that report to ensure that the Postal Service has every resource it needs to protect and deliver election mail and hold DeJoy and the board accountable,� Schumer said.

Facing a backlash over operational changes, DeJoy testified Friday in the Senate that his “No. 1 priority� is to ensure election mail arrives on time.

Still, the new postal leader, a Trump ally, said he would not restore the cuts to mailboxes and sorting equipment that have already been made. He could not provide senators with a plan for handling the ballot crush for the election. DeJoy is set to return Monday to testify before the House Oversight Committee.

“The American people don’t want anyone messing with the post office,� said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., the chair of the Oversight Committee and author of the bill. “They just want their mail.�

Maloney’s committee on Saturday released internal Postal Service documents warning about steep declines and delays in a range of mail services since early July, shortly after DeJoy took the helm. He acknowledged at the Senate hearing there has been a “dip� in service, but disputed reports of widespread problems.

The House bill would reverse the cuts by prohibiting any changes made after January, and provide funds to the agency.

The Postal Service has been struggling financially under a decline in mail volume, COVID-19-related costs and a rare and cumbersome congressional requirement to fund in advance its retiree health care benefits.

For many, the Postal Service provides a lifeline, delivering not just cards and letters but also prescription drugs, financial statements and other items that are especially needed by mail during the pandemic.

Meadows spoke on “Fox News Sunday� and ABC’s “This Week,� and Pelosi appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union.�

Army: Soldier missing from Fort Hood reported sexual abuse
Source:  WHDH-TV - Home
Sunday, 23 August 2020 18:35

KILLEEN, Texas (AP) — A soldier who is missing from Fort Hood in Texas had transferred units after reporting sexual abuse, an Army official said in a statement.

Sgt. Elder Fernandes, 23, was reported missing on Wednesday. Killeen police said he hasn’t been seen since Monday when his staff sergeant dropped him off at home.

Fort Hood public affairs officer Lt. Col. Chris Brautigam said in a statement that there is an “open investigation of abusive sexual contact� involving Fernandes.

“The unit sexual assault response coordinator has been working closely with Sgt. Fernandes, ensuring he was aware of all his reporting, care, and victim advocacy options,” Brautigam said in the statement. Brautigam said Fernandes had been transferred to another unit “to ensure he received the proper care and ensure there were no opportunities for reprisals.â€�

The man’s family and the U.S. Army are asking for the public’s help in finding the missing soldier.

Fort Hood said in a statement that foul play is not suspected in Fernandes’ disappearance.

Fernandes is the third solider from Fort Hood to go missing in the past year. Vanessa Guillén’s body was found in July after her disappearance in April. A fellow soldier killed himself after being confronted by police the day 20-year-old Guillén’s remains were found, officials said. A 22-year-old civilian woman is charged with helping that soldier dispose of Guillén’s body.

Guillén’s family has said she was sexually harassed by the soldier suspected of killing her, but the Army has said there is no evidence to support that. There is an ongoing investigation.

Pfc. Gregory Morales, 24, was reported missing in August 2019, and his remains were found in June. Killeen police and Army officials are still investigating his death and foul play is suspected.

At least 6 injured after tent collapse in New Hampshire
Source:  News South Of Boston
Sunday, 23 August 2020 18:35

At least 6 people have been injured following a tent collapse on Locke Road in New Ipswich.

Trump announces plasma treatment with inconclusive results authorized for COVID-19
Source:  WHDH-TV - Home
Sunday, 23 August 2020 18:31

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump announced Sunday the emergency authorization of convalescent plasma for COVID-19 patients, in a move he called “a breakthrough,â€� one of his top health officials called “promising,â€� and other health experts said needs more study before it’s celebrated.

The announcement came after days of White House officials suggesting there were politically motivated delays by the Food and Drug Administration in approving a vaccine and therapeutics for the disease that has upended Trump’s reelection chances.

On the eve of the Republican National Convention, Trump put himself at the center of the FDA’s announcement of the authorization — it makes it easier for some patients to obtain the treatment — in a news conference Sunday evening.

The blood plasma, taken from patients who have recovered from the coronavirus and rich in antibodies, may provide benefits to those battling with the disease. But the evidence so far has not been conclusive about whether it works, when to administer it and what dose is needed.

In a letter describing the emergency authorization, the chief scientist for the FDA, Denise Hinton, noted: “COVID-19 convalescent plasma should not be considered a new standard of care for the treatment of patients with COVID-19. Additional data will be forthcoming from other analyses and ongoing, well-controlled clinical trials in the coming months.�

An emergency use authorization is not the same as full FDA approval.

In the authorization letter, FDA officials emphasized convalescent plasma is still under investigation. “COVID-19 convalescent plasma should not be considered a new standard of care for the treatment of patients with COVID-19. Additional data will be forthcoming from other analyses and ongoing, well-controlled clinical trials in the coming months,� it said.

But Trump had made clear to aides that he was eager for a piece of good news on the battle of the pandemic, and the timing allowed him to head into the convention with momentum. He and aides billed it as a “major” development and utilized the White House briefing room to make the announcement.

Trump also displayed some rare discipline in the evening news conference, sticking to his talking points, deferring to the head of the FDA, Stephen Hahn, and only taking three questions from reporters.

The White House had grown agitated with the pace of the plasma approval, but the accusations of a slowdown, which were presented without evidence, were just the latest assault from Trump’s team on the “deep state� bureaucracy. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows did not deal in specifics, but said that “we’ve looked at a number of people that are not being as diligent as they should be in terms of getting to the bottom of it.�

“This president is about cutting red tape,â€� Meadows said in an interview Sunday on “This Week” on ABC. “He had to make sure that they felt the heat. If they don’t see the light, they need to feel the heat because the American people are suffering.â€�

The push on Sunday came a day after Trump tweeted sharp criticism on the process to treat the virus, which has killed more than 175,000 Americans and imperiled his reelection chances. The White House has sunk vast resources into an expedited process to develop a vaccine, and Trump aides have been banking on it being an “October surprise� that could help the president make up ground in the polls.

“The deep state, or whoever, over at the FDA is making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics,� Trump tweeted. “Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd. Must focus on speed, and saving lives!�

Earlier this month, Mayo Clinic researchers reported a strong hint that blood plasma from COVID-19 survivors helps other infected patients recover. But it wasn’t considered proof.

More than 70,000 patients in the U.S. have been given convalescent plasma, a century-old approach to fend off flu and measles before vaccines. It’s a go-to tactic when new diseases come along, and history suggests it works against some, but not all, infections.

There’s no solid evidence yet that it fights the coronavirus and, if so, how best to use it.

The Mayo Clinic reported preliminary data from 35,000 coronavirus patients treated with plasma, and said there were fewer deaths among people given plasma within three days of diagnosis, and also among those given plasma containing the highest levels of virus-fighting antibodies.

But it wasn’t a formal study. The patients were treated in different ways in hospitals around the country as part of an FDA program designed to speed access to the experimental therapy. That “expanded access� program tracks what happens to the recipients, but it cannot prove the plasma — and not other care they received — was the real reason for improvement.

Administration officials, in a call with reporters Sunday, discussed a benefit for patients who were within three days of admission to a hospital and were not on a respirator, and were given ‘high-titer’ convalescent plasma containing higher concentrations of antibodies. They were then compared to similar patients who were given lower-titer plasma. The findings suggest deaths were 35% lower in the high-titer group.

There’s been little data on how effective it is or whether it must be administered fairly early in an illness to make a significant difference, said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases expert at Vanderbilt University.

Aiming to ward off a possible a run on convalescent plasma after the announcement, government officials have been working to obtain plasma and to team with corporate partners and nonprofit organizations to generate interest among previously infected patients to donate.

Hahn, who called the development “promising,” said Trump did not speak to him about the timing of the announcement, which comes just before a pivotal week for the president’s reelection chances. Hahn said “this has been in the works for several weeksâ€� and came after a data validation for which the agency had been waiting.

But some health experts were skeptical. Benjamin Corb, of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, called it “conspicuous timing.�

“President Trump is once again putting his political goals ahead of the health and well-being of the American public,” Corb said.

Rigorous studies underway around the country are designed to get that proof, by comparing similar patients randomly assigned to get plasma or a dummy infusion in addition to regular care. But those studies have been difficult to finish as the virus waxes and wanes in different cities. Also, some patients have requested plasma rather than agreeing to a study that might give them a placebo instead.

Former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb dismissed the suggestion of a slowdown.

“I firmly reject the idea they would slow-walk anything or accelerate anything based on any political consideration or any consideration other than what is best for the public health and a real sense of mission to patients,â€� Gottlieb told CBS’s “Face the Nation.â€�

Hundreds of drugs are currently being developed as possible treatments against the coronavirus infection, taking a range of approaches.

Trump, in news conferences, “has made all kinds of therapeutic suggestions� that have not proven to be supported by science — and are even dangerous, Schaffner said. That includes statements about the possible value of treating COVID-19 patients with ultraviolet light and disinfectant. Trump reportedly also recently became enthusiastic about oleandrin, a plant extract derived from a toxic shrub that scientists immediately warned against.

But the president is perhaps best known for his early and ardent embrace of the malaria drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine.

Earlier this month, Hahn emphasized that routine evaluation procedures will remain in place to evaluate COVID vaccine candidates.

“I think this administration has put more pressure on the Food and Drug Administration than I can remember� ever happening in the past, Schaffner said.

“Everybody is just a little bit nervous,� he said.

Residents flee as Gulf Coast sees possible tandem hurricanes
Source:  WHDH-TV - Home
Sunday, 23 August 2020 18:25

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Gulf Coast braced Sunday for a potentially devastating hit from twin hurricanes as two dangerous storms swirled toward the U.S from the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. Officials feared a history-making onslaught of life-threatening winds and flooding along the coast, stretching from Texas to Alabama.

A storm dubbed Marco grew into a hurricane Sunday as it churned up the Gulf of Mexico toward Louisiana. Another potential hurricane, Tropical Storm Laura, lashed the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and was tracking toward the same region of the U.S. coast, carrying the risk of growing into a far more powerful storm.

Experts said computer models show Laura could make landfall with winds exceeding 110 mph, and rain bands from both storms could bring a combined total of 2 feet of rain to parts of Louisiana and several feet of potentially deadly storm surge.

“There has never been anything we’ve seen like this before, where you can have possibly two hurricanes hitting within miles of each over a 48-hour period,� said Benjamin Schott, meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service’s Slidell, Louisiana, office.

The combination of the rain and storm surge in a day or two means “you’re looking at a potential for a major flood event that lasts for some time,â€� said weather service tropical program coordinator Joel Cline. “And that’s not even talking about the wind.’’

Where precisely Marco was headed — and when the storm might arrive — remained elusive Sunday.

The hurricane was initially expected to make landfall Monday, but the National Hurricane Center said that “a major shift� in a majority of their computer models now show the storm stalling off the Louisiana coast for a few days before landing west of New Orleans — and likely weakening before hitting the state. However, skeptical meteorologists at the center were waiting to see if the trends continue before making a dramatic revision in their forecast.

Marco is a small storm that may be pushed westward along the Louisiana coast, delaying landfall but worsening storm surge, Cline said.

The prospect of piggybacked hurricanes was reviving all-too-fresh memories of damage caused by Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, 2005. The storm has been blamed for as many as 1,800 deaths and levee breaches in New Orleans led to catastrophic flooding.

“What we know is there’s going to be storm surge from Marco, we know that that water is not going to recede hardly at all before Laura hits, and so we’ve not seen this before and that’s why people need to be paying particular attention,� Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards warned at a Sunday briefing.

Along the main drag on the barrier island of Grand Isle, south of New Orleans, Starfish Restaurant manager Nicole Fantiny could see an exodus of people driving off the island.

“They are all packing up and leaving,� she said.

Fantiny wasn’t planning to leave, at least for Marco, but she was anxious about the possible one-two punch from both storms. Her husband works with the town’s fire and police departments, so she said they are always among the last ones to leave.

“My house was built in 1938 so I think we’re good,� she said hopefully.

Marco is expected to dance above and below hurricane status after hitting the 75 mph-wind mark Sunday afternoon.

“The central Gulf could be really under the gun between Marco and Laura in back-to-back succession,’’ said Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach. “Certainly both of these storms can impact New Orleans significantly. It just remains to be seen if the track for Laura tracks a bit to the west.�

University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy warned that anyone in New Orleans should be alarmed by the threat. At issue from possible dual hits: whether the levee system can withstand the stress, he said.

In New Orleans, the city’s aging drainage system has been a particular point of concern in recent years after an intense 2017 storm flooded streets and raised questions about the system’s viability.

Because the city is surrounded by levees and parts are below sea level, rainwater must be pumped out to prevent flooding. Any storm system that sits over the city and dumps rain for extended periods of time, or bands of rain that come in rapid succession, is a cause for concern.

New Orleans resident Matthew Meloy and two friends loaded a van with cases of bottled water in the parking lot of a New Orleans Walmart Sunday. He said they still have a lot of storm preparations ahead.

“Check the batteries, flashlights, stocking up on food and trying to park the car on the highest point possible we can find,� he said. “I already spent like 40 minutes this morning filling up the tanks in the cars.�

Tourists were strolling through the New Orleans French Quarter under overcast skies as workers boarded up shop windows. Louisiana corrections officials were evacuating 500 inmates from a jail in Plaquemines Parish, near the coast, to another facility in preparation for the storms.

In Kenner, just outside New Orleans, resident P.J. Hahn said checkout lines in a Sam’s Club reached to the back of the store, while authorities said 114 oil and gas producing platforms in the Gulf have been evacuated as the storms churn toward the Louisiana coast.

Because of strong winds from the southwest, Marco may attain and then lose hurricane status before it hits land, meteorologists said. But those winds could be gone when Laura ventures to the central Gulf, where the usually bathtub-warm water is a degree or 2 (0.5 to 1 degree Celsius) warmer than normal, Klotzbach said.

The warmer the water, the stronger the fuel for a hurricane.

“It, unfortunately, might peak in intensity about landfall. That’s the one thing I worry about with this one,� MIT meteorology professor Kerry Emanuel said of Laura. His multiple computer simulations show a decent chance of winds of more than 110 mph for Laura at landfall, as do other computer models.

The key for Laura’s future is how it survives Cuba. Originally forecast to rake over almost the entire length of the island and potentially weaken, the storm late Sunday moved further south, skirting the island. If that continues, it is more likely to come out strong enough to power up over the favorable environment of the Gulf of Mexico, Klotzbach said.

If that continues, Laura could hit further west in the Gulf, possibly into Texas instead of Louisiana, he said. If it hits Louisiana that would break the record for two named storms hitting the state so close together. The current record is five days apart in 1885, Klotzbach said.

And there’s one long-term possibility that adds to the risk. As Laura moves north after landfall into Oklahoma, there’s a chance it will be caught up into the jet stream, travel east and emerge over North Carolina and return to tropical storm status, McNoldy and Klotzbach said.

By late afternoon Sunday, Laura was 50 miles (80 km) south of Guantanamo, Cuba, with 60 mph (95 kmh) winds moving west-northwest at 21 mph (33 kmh). Marco was 240 miles (390 km) south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, with 75 mph (120 kph) winds, moving north-northwest at 13 mph (20 kmh).

In Empire, Louisiana, about 50 miles south of New Orleans near the mouth of the Mississippi River, shrimp, oyster and fishing boats line the docks. It was eerily quiet Sunday evening, as most fishermen had already secured their boats. Mike Bartholemey was putting extra blocks of wood under his recently dry docked 50-foot shrimp boat “Big Mike,� out of his concern that hurricane winds might topple his boat to the ground.

In Venice, a fishing town on the Mississippi River, shrimper Acy Cooper was up early Sunday to move his three shrimp boats from the harbor into the bayous nearby to ride out the storm. It’s the same area where he moored his boat during Hurricane Katrina.

The boat survived; his house in Venice did not.

Two 18-Year-Olds Charged With Stealing ‘Thin Blue Line’ Flag From Hingham Home
Source:  CBS Boston
Sunday, 23 August 2020 18:20

HINGHAM (CBS) – Two 18-year-old Hingham men are charged with stealing and defacing a “thin blue line� flag from a home. The two allegedly posted video of the act on social media.

Hingham Police received an anonymous tip about a flag pole and flag that had been stolen on August 15. The person providing the tip also included videos from social media that showed the pole being smashed and placed into a pool.

Police said another video showed one of the men ripping a thin blue line bumper sticker from the window of a car parked at the Derby Street Shoppes in town.

Officers identified the two men.

One of the 18-year-olds is charged with larceny under $1,200 and two counts of defacing property. The second man is charged with larceny and one count of defacing property.

Because the men were not arrested, their names were not released. They are set to appear in Hingham District Court at a future date.

“It’s scary. I’m really hoping that we all can come together a lot better than this,” Ellen Perfetuo of Hingham said. “People who destroy and destruct, there’s just no place for that and it’s not helping.”

John Alessi of Hingham added, “I feel like a lot of people, myself included, are still trying to find the line between kind of the ‘defund the police’ and kind of the ‘law and order.’ I certainly respect the police.”

Video: Muggy weather to stick with us through Tuesday
Source:  News South Of Boston
Sunday, 23 August 2020 17:59

A round of thunderstorms will arrive Monday, and even stronger thunderstorms will move through the region on Tuesday.

Celtics Notebook: Kemba Walker’s knee rehab program bears fruit
Source:  Boston Herald
Sunday, 23 August 2020 17:56

As important as the 24.3-point scoring average Kemba Walker put together during the Celtics’ four-game first round sweep of Philadelphia is this: a 33.0 minutes average over four playoff games.

Though Walker was frustrated by the minutes restriction put in place by the Celtics training staff during the seeding round, here’s some early proof that the program designed to strengthen his balky left knee was the right idea.

“It’s been great. It’s been great. It’s not over,� said Walker. “I gotta stay on top of it. I’ve been doing a great job at just sticking with it. My training staff, they’ve given me a great plan to stick to, but the work’s not done. We won a series but we’re still looking forward to more tough ones. As far as the rehab, I gotta stay consistent.�

Honoring Kobe

Sunday would have been Kobe Bryant’s 42nd birthday, and in honor of his former workout partner, Jayson Tatum wore a purple armband during the game, and later showed up for his media zoom conference wearing a Kobe T-shirt.

It was, of course, a special day.

“Everybody knows it’s Kobe’s birthday and I just wanted to acknowledge him,� said Tatum. “I know that a lot of other players did today, and everybody knows how much he meant to me and still means to me. Just the extra chip, the extra motivation that I feel when I go out there and play, just knowing that he’ll always be my chip and just try to make him proud.�

Hayward home

Gordon Hayward flew home to be with his family Friday, after doing his initial rehab work in the Orlando bubble in his attempt to recover from a Grade 3 sprain of his right ankle.

Estimates don’t have the Celtics forward being available unless the Celtics reach the Eastern Conference Finals, but this will be complicated by Hayward’s stated desire to be present when wife Robyn gives birth to their fourth child in October.

But coach Brad Stevens can’t think that far ahead. With Hayward, his thoughts are strictly on the forward’s recovery.

“I don’t have any idea of that timeline,� said Stevens. “That’s dependent. The plan of attack from what I’ve been told is when he’s closing in on being ready to play, he’ll be back.

“He’ll just do rehab where he is – that’s all I know.�

In focus

The only downside, probably, to going into a close-out game with a 3-0 lead is the potential loss of focus.

“There’s a lot more negative stuff going on around us. We’re just playing a basketball game,� Stevens said of a potential “negative� result. “We’re gonna try to play as well as we can, whether we’re up 3-0, down 3-0, up 2-1 – whatever, we have to win the next possession. That’s what we’re focused on. It’s hard to win. This series could easily be 2-1, Philadelphia, and that what every series I’ve ever been in is. You just play as well as you can, you have an opportunity today to play again, and that’s that.�

Celtics broom Philadelphia with 110-106 win
Source:  Boston Herald
Sunday, 23 August 2020 17:49

  • Boston Celtics center Daniel Theis (27) dunks past Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) during the fourth quarter of Game 4 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)

  • Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) and Philadelphia 76ers forward Al Horford (42) go for the ball during the fourth quarter of Game 4 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)

  • Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker (8) defends against a shot by Philadelphia 76ers guard Alec Burks (20) during the fourth quarter of Game 4 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)

  • Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker (8) dribbles as Philadelphia 76ers guard Raul Neto (19) defends during the second half of Game 4 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)

  • Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) scores past Philadelphia 76ers guard Raul Neto (19) during the third quarter of Game 4 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)

  • Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris (12) shoots over Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker (8) during the third quarter of Game 4 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)

  • Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) steals the ball from Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris (12) during the second quarter of Game 4 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)

  • Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) and center Daniel Theis (27) celebrate after Game 4 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)



As much as his escape from Charlotte was predicated on joining a team with deep aspirations — one, certainly, that could transport Kemba Walker out of the first round — the Celtics point guard wasn’t in the mood Sunday to overplay the significance of his team’s first-round sweep of Philadelphia.

“I don’t know if it’s much to celebrate, honestly,� he said after the Celtics’ 110-106 win. “We didn’t do much yet. It’s a great thing that we were able to beat that team, of course. It’s a great team, great players, and it does feel good.

“But we know it’s not over. We know,� said Walker. “Toronto plays Brooklyn and depending on how that goes, Toronto is the defending champion, a tough team. So we’re going to watch out for that game and see how that goes and take it one day at a time. Whenever we know who we’re going to face, be prepared.�

Walker thus chose not to sniff a fairly lush bunch of roses on his way to the second round. So Jayson Tatum did it for him.

“That’s a big reason why Kemba came here, he wanted to be a part of something special and he wanted to win,� said Tatum. “And as happy as I am that we won, I’m even happier that he’s getting a chance to experience this. He’d never been out the first round. He’s been in the league for a very long time so just to be able to help him get there and experience this together, it’s fun, and hopefully it’ll continue.�

Despite Philadelphia’s toughest appearance of the series, with a defensive attack that found Joel Embiid challenging his most of the series on the perimeter, and Josh Richardson limiting Tatum to a nine-point, 3-for-6 first half, the Celtics finished off a weary-looking Sixers team with an overpowering 32-19 third quarter.

Tatum shook free for 10 of his 28 points in that stretch, and Walker was once again the steadiest Celtics scorer from quarter to quarter with a 32-point performance that included 9-for-10 free-throw shooting.

With most expecting coach Brett Brown to lose his job after seven seasons of The Process, the 76ers head back to Philadelphia trying to figure out why Ben Simmons and Embiid don’t work better together, and why Al Horford, of all people, had a chemistry issue.

The Celtics, in the meantime, are far from where Brad Stevens wants them to be on the eve of their second-round series, most likely against the defending champs.

Just call him Captain Hook: Stevens pulled Daniel Theis 30 seconds into the game when it became immediately apparent that Embiid needed a different look, like Enes Kanter. With 44.8 seconds left, and the Celtics leading by 10 points, the Celtics coach successfully challenged a call on Theis, with the call transferred to Horford upon video review. He’s not happy.

“We won two close games, had a great run at the end of the first quarter in another one, and today played really well for 39 or 40 minutes. So more good minutes than not,� said Stevens. “Still not good enough to be the best version of ourselves, which we’re going to be whenever that next series starts.�

Tatum found his finishing kick after a slow start: He had trouble with Josh Richardson — and help — in the first half, before freeing up for a 19-point, eight-rebound second half. Overall he had 15 boards, a career playoff high. But with Toronto on the horizon, Tatum understands that the coverages are going to come at him harder.

“I guess it’s just something to expect moving forward,� he said. “They did a great job. They made it tough night-in and night-out and my teammates did a good job of making the right play and helping me make the right play. They were blitzing and doubling on the catch. Probably gonna be more of that, so I just gotta continue to get better and make the right pass.�

Tatum averaged 27 points and 9.8 rebounds in the series. Maintaining those averages is about to get tougher.

The Celtics held their own on the glass against Philadelphia. Can they keep it up?  They were remarkably good on the defensive glass, and actually won Sunday’s overall boards battle, 52-49, despite Embiid and Horford grabbing 10 apiece. Tatum, with 15, is an example of how the smallish Celtics have to keep attacking the glass.

“Whatever I can do to help us play. All that matters is that we’re playing, so sacrificing my body and just giving that extra effort,â€� said Tatum. “That’s all rebounding is, it’s just selfless. So Enes did a great job boxing Embiid out, so it’s on the rest of us to go out there and rebound, get the ball and push it.â€�

The Celtics just completed a notable first-round streak: Last season’s first-round sweep of Indiana and a 2018 game against the Bucks included, the Celtics have now won nine straight first-round playoff games. According to our stat guru, Dick Lipe, the run matches a nine-game first series run put together by a team you may have heard of — the mid-’80s Celtics, who won nine straight from 1985-88.

Also, according to Lipe, Walker (32 points, 8-for-15, 12-for-13 FT) became only the third Celtic in franchise history to score at least 32 in a playoff game with 15 or less attempts. Kevin McHale (33, 10-for-14, 13-for-13 FT) did it against Atlanta in 1988, and Bob Cousy (32 PTS, 6-for-12, 20-for-23 FT) did it against Syracuse in 1954.

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