1. The Boston Celtics have been lower than a minute from a 3-1 sequence lead over the Philadelphia 76ers. Twice.
A cease on the finish of regulation or on the finish of time beyond regulation and the sequence heads again to Boston with an opportunity for the Celtics to complete it in 5 video games.
As a substitute, James Harden got here by way of twice and the Sixers evened up the sequence.
What’s disappointing is not only being that shut and never ending the job, however how Boston dealt with each conditions. Certain, Harden needed to make the large photographs, however the Celtics have been simply as culpable in their very own demise as Harden was.
2. Let’s begin with recognizing that Boston confirmed some great struggle within the fourth quarter to make it a sport. They locked in defensively and made sufficient performs on offense to have an opportunity to win on the finish.
Philadelphia shot simply 6-of-19 within the fourth interval. Joel Embiid, persevering with his historical past of poor closes towards the Celtics, was simply 1-of-6.
That’s encouraging for Boston, regardless of the loss. That’s true even when we overlook the truth that enjoying higher for the primary 36 minutes wouldn’t have necessitated being so nice over the ultimate 12 minutes. However that’s simply sort of the way it goes typically. That the Celtics have been capable of lock the Sixers down that a lot ought to bode nicely for the remainder of the sequence.
3. Earlier than we get into the messes on the finish of regulation and time beyond regulation, we wish to give some like to Al Horford.
The Celtics veteran was great within the fourth quarter. When Horford did this, it felt like he ripped the center out of Philadelphia:
Horford was additionally dominant defensively late within the sport. He had three of his 5 blocks within the last body. Horford knew Embiid had no legs left, so he went for the block on this jumper and received it:
It felt like this was going to be the play that received Boston the ultimate cease they wanted, however they couldn’t corral the rebound:
There’s some blame to be handed round for Boston’s failure to shut out Sport 4, however none of it goes to Al Horford.
4. Talking of failure to corral rebounds, the Celtics have been bit by it whereas nursing a three-point lead with simply over a minute left. The preliminary protection right here was terrific. However nobody received a physique on P.J. Tucker and he received an and-1 to tie it:
5. After Al Horford’s final block, the refs needed to cease the sport to evaluate if the ball hit the rim or not. It was shut, so there’s no room for complaining. Had it not hit the rim, the 76ers must take a late-clock launch. Because it was, the evaluate functioned as a free timeout for Philadelphia.
The Sixers received what they needed, because the Celtics switched Horford onto James Harden. Horford was proper on Harden, and Marcus Sensible flew in with some late assist. Didn’t matter:
6. Regardless of the shot by James Harden to tie it (keep in mind that he tied it for just a little later!), Boston nonetheless had an opportunity at a game-winner.
Jayson Tatum drew three defenders and made the fitting play right here. Marcus Sensible was proper on it, however missed:
It’s necessary to notice that Boston went and not using a timeout after Harden’s basket, regardless of having two timeouts left. It’s additionally necessary to notice that Tatum began his drive with over 5 seconds left. File these issues away for later.
7. After going forwards and backwards in time beyond regulation, the Celtics have been down one with underneath a minute to play. Did Jayson Tatum push off right here? Certain did. He additionally made the large shot:
However no matter about that each one that. The hot button is to notice that once they wanted a basket with lower than a minute to play, the Celtics had ball and participant motion on the possession. File that away too.
8. Let’s reset earlier than wanting on the last two performs of the sport. The Celtics are main 115-113. A two-point shot can’t beat them. Right here’s the play:
A lot went improper for the Celtics on this play.
You don’t double off the arc when a two-point shot can’t beat you.
You don’t double one-pass away.
You don’t double off the strongside nook.
Joel Embiid had no legs left. He was working on the fumes of his fumes. Simply let him take the robust contested shot.
All of that mentioned, Jaylen Brown took accountability for the double-team. He mentioned he made a nasty learn and a nasty gamble and that it was his fault. Proudly owning it and studying from it’s all you possibly can actually ask for after the very fact.
The larger problem is that Boston retains switching on the finish of those video games for no good cause. Perhaps Al Horford doesn’t cease Embiid, however contemplating he had been for the final about quarter-hour or so, it’s in all probability greatest to simply stick to the matchup that’s been working for years.
9. Then you’ve got the ultimate play. As soon as once more, the Celtics have two timeouts left. Right here’s the complete last sequence (Sorry it’s in tweet kind, however the clip can’t be pulled simply in any other case.):
By the point Jayson Tatum begins to make his transfer, there’s underneath 5 seconds to play. Not like on the finish of regulation, that break up second of time finally ends up mattering, as Sensible’s shot is late.
However the greater challenge is that Boston had two timeouts left. Joe Mazzulla might have known as timeout when it was clear that issues have been bogging down and never occurring rapidly sufficient. He’s drawn up sufficient good ATOs this season, that the Celtics in all probability get a clear look.
However as soon as once more, they play it out and this time there isn’t even a glance, because the shot was late and by no means truly occurred.
Additionally, there’s no actual motion on the play. Sensible relocates after the preliminary go, White units a semi-screen for Tatum. However everybody kind of simply sticks.
Lastly, Tatum might have pressured the problem and brought the shot himself or tried to attract a foul. Principally, this all simply wanted to occur faster. And a timeout might have reset issues.
10. The sequence was heading again to Boston for Sport 5 it doesn’t matter what. Now, it’s a must-win for the Celtics. The cushion is sort of gone, nevertheless it’s nonetheless form of there. However you hope you don’t want that final little little bit of padding.
Boston misplaced Sport 5 at house within the second spherical final season. They went on the highway and gained Sport 6 in Milwaukee, earlier than blowing out the Bucks again in Boston in Sport 7.
However that’s not a path you actually wish to stroll once more. The Celtics have to maintain enterprise in Sport 5, after which ideally shut issues out in Philadelphia in Sport 6.
On one hand, it’s disappointing that Boston has misplaced two video games that they may, and arguably ought to, have gained.
However, it’s taken two James Harden buzzer-beaters for Philadelphia to tie the sequence. That’s probably not a sustainable means of profitable both.
But it surely doesn’t actually matter how we received right here. The sequence is a best-of-three now. Get two extra wins and transfer on. It’s survive-and-advance time now.