Boston Celtics defeat Philadelphia 76ers 114-112, return to ECF
For the Philadelphia 76ers, it was win or go home.
For the Boston Celtics, it was win-it-at-home, knowing every loss means more rest for the Cleveland Cavaliers (and the outside chance of the 76ers making history as the first team to come back from a zero-to-three deficit).
The atmosphere in the TD Garden was loud - near deafening, in fact - as might be expected, given the stakes.
Boston, down Shane Larkin after his collision with Joel Embiid in Game Four, shuffled their starting lineup to move Marcus Smart to the bench to serve as backup floor general in his place.
The 76ers won the tip, and TJ McConnell scored a quick layup, only to be matched on the other end by Jaylen Brown in his first start of the series.
The game stayed close early, with the bulk of Boston's offense flowing through Jaylen, and for Philly, Dario Saric. At about the halfway point of the quarter, the Sixers started to get a little separation, but a Terry Rozier trey from the top of the key followed by a trip to the charity stripe quickly erased the small lead to just one, 16-15 76ers.
Boston took the lead back with a Jayson Tatum slam at about the two-minute mark, but neither team could get a lead for long, trading baskets until the end of the period with the Celtics up 25-24 on an Aron Baynes dunk.
The second quarter started with Marco Belinelli slashing to the cup for an and-1, and a jumper by Embiid gave the Sixers a four-point cushion. Both teams would go on a scoring frenzy over the next several possessions, someone scoring on eight consecutive possessions. The tight play continued with neither team able to sustain a lead until Robert Covington put the 76ers up 46-42 with five left in the half.
Boston began to pull away as the half wound down, with Baynes hitting a corner trey followed by a quick bucket from Tatum on Boston's next possession. Scary Terry added another three for good measure in the final possession of the half to put the Celtics up 61-52 going into halftime.
The third quarter began with Horford fouling Saric on a three-point attempt, which Dario converted two of from the stripe. Soon after, a trey from Jaylen gave the Celtics their largest lead of the evening at 66-56. Tatum and Baynes extended the lead to eleven, the latter with an up-and-under on his fellow Aussie Ben Simmons.
Embiid and Saric managed to cut the lead to six with seven left in the quarter, but Jaylen nailed another three on the next possession, only to see Joel get frustrated after fouling Aron, sending Baynes to the line for three free throws after garnering a tech and pushing the lead to twelve with six to go in the third and forcing a Philly timeout.
The 76ers, facing elimination, came back to the court with purpose, Embiid forcing his way to the cup. Jaylen answered back with a bucket and a trip to the line, but trips to the charity stripe by Saric, Embiid and JJ Redick pulled Philly within four. Marcus Morrisfinally making a bucket after missing his previous nine shots stopped the bleeding, and a Rozier visit to the stripe pushed the lead to 82-75.
Embiid answered right back, though, and an Ersan Ilyasova scored soon after, cutting the lead to three. Redick would cut the lead to one, and the Sixers nearly took the lead as time expired on the third quarter on a McConnell miss.
The final frame began with a long two from Brown, but Ilyasova answered right back to tie the game at 85-up. Jaylen would hit a trey to give the Cs back the lead. Covington then hit a three to give Philly back the lead, but Tatum would wrest it right back from the stripe on the next play.
Ilyasova retook the lead with free throws, and Saric added a bucket before sending Morris to the line, who converted both. Tatum would head back to the line to tie it back up at 94 with 7:30 left in the game, and coach Brad Stevens called a timeout shortly after to regroup Boston's offense.
The Cs responded with a quick bucket from Horford to retake the lead, rinsed and repeated on the next Boston possession to extend. He then stole the ball on the next play and assisted to Scary Terry, putting the Cs up 100-94 with 5:30 remaining.
Simmons got to the line after being fouled by Tatum, but Tatum would dunk on the next possession and Embiid on the next. Brown sent Joel to the line to cut the lead to two, and Saric hit a three to retake the lead. Simmons added to the lead with a dunk and 2:30 to play. Smart would get to the line, but only convert one, and then Simmons answered back with a floater.
Tatum got to the line, connecting on both, but Saric answered back. Horford flushed an oop to cut it to 109-107 Philly, and Smart tied it up on the next possession. "Average" Al stole the ball from Saric, and Tatum put Boston up two with 22 seconds remaining.
Embiid would take the Sixers next shot - and missed it, the rebound fittingly being stripped by Terry Rozier and Boston calling a timeout. Saric fouled Rozier, sending him to the line, where he converted both. Redick hit a quick three with 4.7 seconds remaining in a desperate bid to save the 76ers season and forcing another timeout. Marcus Smart got sent to the line, missing one, and Philly had nothing left in the tank, ending their season on a 114-112 loss.