clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Celtics outlast Sixers 112-109

New, comments

Injured and slumping, the Celtics once again found a way to answer with their backs on the wall

NBA: Boston Celtics at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

I wouldn’t blame you if you felt the sky was falling tonight after two heartbreaking losses and some strong comments by Marcus Morris. Things didn’t seem to be looking up as the team found itself heading into Philadelphia to take on the retooled and rejuvenated Sixers team that was ready to flip the script on their misfortunes against the Celtics. But when all things seem to be against the Celtics that’s when they seem to be able to take their game to another level and in vintage Celtics fashion, they didn’t disappoint.

The theme of the first half was defense, Boston was active in passing lanes, crisp in their rotations of Reddick, and Horford was his usual supernatural self when he goes up against Embiid. Marcus Morris, after calling out the team for a lack of playing with joy, promptly came out firing, scoring 8 points on 4-6 shooting with a lions share of that against Tobias Harris.

The Sixers, though with a different roster, had a lot of the same problems that they’ve always had with Boston. Without any real opportunities to play super fast, they got bogged down in sluggish halfcourt basketball which limits Simmons impact and exasperates how much he can shrink the floor. Harris seemed very uncomfortable trying to score on Boston’s size and without a clear mismatch for him to target he had a very quiet half.

By the time the dust settled the Celtics were able to force the Sixers into 10 first half turnovers and a 52-46 deficit heading into intermission.

With all the focus heading into game on how the Celtics would handle the third quarter they promptly gave up a 20-4 run which included giving up the first 9 points of the frame. The team was able to respond strong with an early substitution for Hayward and fought their way back into the game then went on a 7-0 run late that gave them some cushion. A buzzer beating layup by Butler allowed the Sixers to escape the frame only down three, but the momentum was on the Celtics side.

The fourth quarter started with some of the most well-run Celtics offense the team has had all season. They exploited the smaller TJ McConnell by having their wings dive into the hoop where they were rewarded consistently and when they got the defense to collapse on those looks they created great looks on the perimeter, specifically from Hayward who had one of his most sharp offensive games of his tenure in Boston (26 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists).

The Sixers never responded well, they got some big-time shotmaking by Embiid that gave Philadelphia life and a Reddick three followed by two Butler free throws tied the game up at 94. However, the Celtics had an answer of their own with back-to-back threes from Tatum and Rozier to push the Celtics lead to 100-94. The Sixers roared back with a 9-2 run to take the lead by 103-102, but a huge 3 by Hayward in the corner quickly have the Celtics the lead back.

With under a minute left and the Celtics nursing a 106-104 lead, Horford found himself matched up with Embiid on the left block with 6 seconds left on the shot clock. The mega-sized big backed down Horford as much as he can but then tried to do a swing through move that wasn’t awarded by the refs despite some contact. While the Sixers were late getting back, Smart was able to fly into the lane uncontested and dunk it by an idle Embiid to put the Celtics up 108-104. On the next possession, the Butler was able to score and get the foul on layup attempt to diminish the Celtics lead to a point. An intentional foul by the Sixers sent Horford to the line where he was able to hit both his FT’s and push the lead to 110-107 with 13.1 seconds left in regulation. The Sixers were able to score after allowing the clock to dwindle down to a shade under 3 seconds to cut the lead by one again but on the ensuing possession Tatum hit both his FT’s to bring the lead up to 3. A late Butler heave didn’t get off on time and just like that the Celtics went into Philadelphia and took out the Sixers.

With this win, the Celtics officially clinch the season series against the Sixers and move back ahead of them in the standings.