NBA

Celtics Fall Short In OT, Drop Game 4 116-115

How a few tenths of a second could’ve changed the whole series.

The Boston Celtics lost to the Philadelphia 76ers 116-115 in overtime. With two timeouts in hand, the Celtics worked too much time off the clock in the game’s waning seconds and let time expire before Marcus Smart could release an open three. In a game Boston was never truly out of, even when down 16 points in the 3rd, the inability to close this one out is a tough pill to swallow.

Marcus Smart said that the Celtics took so long to initiate in order to get everyone in the right spot, but felt that the team needed to be more aware of the clock. “We went a little slower than expected,” he said. “We wanted to go really fast. They did a good job of getting their guys on the right people and making a play, but we got to see what’s going on, see the time, and understand time management.”

The loss overshadows a ballistic 4th quarter comeback that got the Celtics the lead in a game they had no business leading. After three flat quarters from Boston and a dominant James Harden performance on the other side, Jayson Tatum’s resurgent offense and Al Horford’s defense led a 10-0 charge to take the lead.

Joe Mazzulla was happy with his team’s effort in the 4th quarter, and said they did a good job of managing expectations heading into the day. “I loved our mindset really throughout the entire game,” he said. “We expected to get a great punch from them, and any time you’re in a game like that, it comes down to who makes the most plays at the end.”

After a Smart three fell short at the end of regulation, the game went to overtime tied 107-107. In OT, it was Harden who delivered for the Sixers, hitting a corner three to give the Sixers a 1-point lead with 19.0 seconds to go and cap off his 42 point night. Joe Mazzulla let the Celtics play, but they couldn’t get a shot off in time.

Tatum, who shot 1-9 in the first half, recorded 22 second-half points to go with 18 rebounds and 4 blocks overall. Brown trailed close behind with 23, most of his makes coming in the first half. Horford, who didn’t have a great shooting performance like Game 3, made up for it with his great defense on Joel Embiid. He finished the night with 5 blocks.

For Philadelphia, they have to be feeling incredibly fortunate with how this game turned out. They got fantastic games from both Harden and Embiid, played swarming defense, pushed the pace, and still nearly let this game slip. Instead, they’re coming back to Boston with the series evened up at 2-2 and a chance to win it on their home floor in Game 6.

Along with 42 points on 16-23 from the field, Harden had 9 assists, 8 rebounds, and 1 unexpected block on Malcolm Brogdon. Embiid had 34 points and 13 rebounds, shying away on the offensive end in the 4th but hitting big shots in overtime. Aside from Harden, the rest of the team shot 7/25 from deep, and only one other Sixer, Tyrese Maxey, finished in double digits.

Joe Mazzulla said after Game 3 that he expected Game 4 to be a war, and he certainly was right. Now, with two games separating either team from a trip to the Conference Finals, the rest of the series should be even more brutal.

Henry Bova

Henry is a journalism student at Northeastern University covering the Celtics and Patriots for CLNS.

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