With the way Game 4 ended, the last thing anyone expected was the Celtics to come out and play like that.
The Celtics dropped Game 5 to the Philadelphia 76ers 115-103, trailing the series 3-2 and falling to 3-3 at home this postseason. In the biggest game of the season for both teams, Philadelphia got a complete performance from their four best players while Boston put together its worst shooting game of the playoffs, sending the TD Garden crowd to the exits early.
Mazzulla: That was our first really, really bad game of the playoffs.
— Bobby Manning (@RealBobManning) May 10, 2023
The end of the Celtics’ bench made this more interesting than Doc Rivers would’ve liked, but it was all Philadelphia from the jump. The Sixers’ most important players — Joel Embiid, James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, and Tobias Harris — came to play, all recording double figures before the first half ended. Though they gave Boston chances early in the 3rd to come back, Philadelphia answered every single time the Celtics gained momentum, getting the lead up to 21 late in the 4th before Joe Mazzulla unloaded his bench.
Embiid was masterful, finishing with 33 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 massive blocks. Maxey had his best game of the series as well with 30 points and 6-12 shooting from three. Aside from the main group of Sixers, Danuel House Jr. also gave the team great minutes off the bench. Taking Jalen McDaniels’ place in the rotation, he had 10 points in just over 15 minutes of action.
For Boston, the first half felt a lot like Game 4. This time, in the second half, they couldn’t get out of the hole they dug for themselves. Aside from the late flurry provided by Payton Pritchard and Sam Hauser, the offense was abysmal. The team shot 39.8% from the field and 31.6% from three, both playoff-lows. The physicality from Games 3 and 4 also was missing, with Boston getting out-rebounded and playing soft defense on Harden and Embiid for much of the game.
Garden boos raining down on Tatum and the #Celtics as they fall behind by 19 late in the 3rd
— Celtics on CLNS (@CelticsCLNS) May 10, 2023
Jayson Tatum led the way for the C’s with an ugly 36 points, finding some success in the paint but never establishing rhythm otherwise. Jaylen Brown had a much more efficient 24 points, but took far too few shots and was 3-8 at the free throw line. Al Horford and Malcolm Brogdon really struggled in their minutes, shooting 0-7 and 3-9 respectively.
In every game the Celtics have lost these playoffs — no matter how the game transpired — they’ve had a chance to come away with a win. Tonight, Philadelphia outworked them from the opening tip. Now, amid a year that began with championship hopes, the Celtics are facing an early exit if they don’t compete in Game 6.
Boston will fight for its season on Thursday night.