PHILADELPHIA — In another heartbreaking loss for the Sixers, the Celtics grabbed a 3-0 lead in their best-of-7 series in an overtime thriller in Philly. After a miraculous game-tying shot at the end of regulation by Sixers shooter Marco Belinelli fell through the bottom of the net, Brad Stevens reminded his group that they’ve been through the same level of adversity throughout the season and know what it will take to seal a win.
“We talked about it in the huddle heading into overtime. No team is more built for having a disappointing end in regulation and then turning it around and winning it,” Stevens said. “I’ve never been around a group of guys, and I’ve been around some really special ones, that can just turn the page and play the next play the right way. It is a unique group in that regard.
“You don’t want to dig yourself in those kind of holes. Obviously, you don’t want to leave Belinelli. It’s a play they run to post Embiid but Baynes was really conscious of him, Terry Rozier just got tripped up on the screen and it just happens. Belinelli hit a heck of a shot and you move on. You get ready and play the next five minutes.”
The next five minutes kicked off with another made field goal by Belinelli, followed by a 3-pointer from J.J. Redick and just like that the Celtics had to dig deeper. Al Horford and Jayson Tatum responded, pulling the Celtics to within one point (99-98).
“I didn’t have to say much. I think we all understood what was at stake,” Horford said. “I always try and stay in the moment as much as I can and I just wanted the guys to stay focused and enjoy these moments. We really just tried to stay focused on each play.”
Horford made the play of the game. And after the game, Sixers big man Joel Embiid expressed his frustration. However, it wasn’t over Philly’s defensive shortcomings, but rather, Game 3’s officiating.
“It was physical, they did a good job. I don’t see how it’s possible for someone to guard me, and have zero fouls,” Embiid explained. “A couple plays it wasn’t fair but you have to give Al a lot of credit. He competed some plays for his team, and got them the win. I’m too big, but I guess it’s the playoffs. I’m learning but I am too big to not be fouled when I go to the basket.”