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Relax Boston, We're Fine

Calm down, Celtic Nation.


Yes, the Boston Celtics lost to the Philadelphia 76ers 116-115 in overtime, allowing the Sixers to even the series at two games apiece. Yes, it stings. Yes, of course we could have played better.


But, we are completely, entirely, A-okay.


For starters, we came out flat. Jaylen Brown was the only guy that remembered we had a basketball game today. He was seven for eleven for 16 points at the end of the first half. His All-Star running mate, Jayson Tatum? One for nine for a dreadful two points through the first 24 minutes. The Celtics as a team put up a miserable seven for 23 shooting in the first quarter, but were only down by nine, 59-50, at the end of the first half.


How? They were doing the little things. Gang rebounding, great defensive switches, and not letting any of the Sixers not-named James Harden or Joel Embiid get going. If Tatum had it going a little early on, C's are potentially closing out the first half beating Philly.

C/O to sports.yahoo.com


But what impressed me the most about the team, especially Tatum, is that they remained engaged. Tatum's talked a lot about the team's mental lapses and losing focus during the season and he showed great leadership today by simply not letting himself do that. He played great defense, made smart passes, and was constantly on the glass. The only problem is that the C's could just not buy a bucket in the first half what we all know is a make or miss league.


The Sixers were able to hold off the Celtics for the third quarter, as both Harden and Embiid were magnificent in this one (give them both credit, they responded in a ridiculous fashion). It wasn't until a Celtics' timeout with 7:15 left in the fourth did things start to shift the Celtics' way. The Sixers were up 96-88, but the C's came out of their timeout swinging. They quickly went on an 8-0 run to tie it up at 96 and forced Philly to call their own timeout with five minutes left in the game.


Both teams went back and forth a bit until the Celtics were able to go up five, 105-100, with 2:03 left. Much of that was due to Al Horford's defense on Embiid (more on that later), making it hard on the MVP to bully him inside. Harden would immediately respond though out of the timeout to bring the Sixers within three with 1:50 to go. In all honesty, Boston could have closed the game out had they grabbed a defensive rebound, but sometimes the ball just does not bounce your way.

C/O to usatoday.com


This was certainly one of those times.


Down three, Sixers' Tobias Harris threw up a complete airball from twelve feet out, which ended up being a gorgeous pass, that landed right in 6'5 P.J. Tucker's hands, who then put it back up for the and-1. Tucker would hit the free throw and the game was again tied with 1:06 left.


On the other end though, Tucker made sure that his little moment would be forgotten as he fouled Marcus Smart with 50 seconds left, giving him two free points to put Boston back up two.


Down two with seconds left now, it was pretty obvious the ball would be in Embiid's hands. Horford however, would make another great play, blocking the Sixers' big man with 31 seconds left. If the Celtics grabbed a defensive board, the game would have been over.


But again, they did not.


6'2 Tyrese Maxey was able to grab the rebound, then fed it to Harden, who then hit a floater to tie the game with 16 seconds left. I am cringing just like you as I am writing this. I know. It hurts.


But I hate to tell you, it gets even worse.


On the other end, Tatum drove to the cup and kicked it out to a wide open Smart for three. I liked the play from Tatum, it was a simple drive and kick. It was the smart play too, as Tatum had three Sixers' defenders on him. Smart should have been the hero. But, his shot was short. Overtime.


If this wasn't already shaping up to be an instant NBA playoff classic, overtime made sure of it. The two squads went back and forth, with Smart hitting an and-1 to put the C's up three with three minutes left and then Tatum drilling a three to put his team back up two with 38 seconds left. Again, the Celtics were faced with the task of stopping Embiid/Harden and again the duo came through. Harden hit a tough three-pointer off of a Embiid kick out, despite a great closeout by Brown. Sixers up 116-15 with 19 seconds left.

C/O to as.com


Head coach Joe Mazzulla decided to not take a timeout and let his squad play it out. The Celtics took too much time trying to get something set up, which resulted in Tatum driving and kicking it out to Smart (I feel like we have been here before), who this time banged home the three, but it was after the buzzer. Sixers win 116-115.


If there was a half a second more on the clock, no one would have cared that Mazzulla didn't elect to talk it over with his team. I am not going to bash him for his decision either. It was an obvious frantic moment and I believe the C's got another good look off of a another smart Tatum decision. Honestly, I would like to focus on that Tatum trusted Smart again after he just missed a game winner five minutes ago. That trust is what championship teams are made of.


All in all, give Philly credit, or really Embiid and Harden credit. The MVP ended with 34 points and 13 rebounds, while Harden put up 42 points on 16-23 shooting. They put Philly on their back with the rest of the Sixers' staying quiet throughout the game. Yes they hit timely shots, but was anyone really that worried about a forced Maxey drive into traffic? It took two monster efforts from the two best players on the Sixers to scrape by after an exceptionally slow start from us.


We'll be okay.



Be sure to check out fansonlysportz.com for more sports content updated daily!


Stay tuned for more Celtics coverage as they go back home on Tuesday for a 7:30 p.m. EST tipoff!



- W. Monast


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