Updated:May 12, 2023 1:35 pm
The Boston Celtics fell short in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Philadelphia 76ers, losing 116-115 in overtime due to a failed final play. Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla’s decision not to call a timeout has come under scrutiny, with many questioning why he allowed his players to handle the play.
James Harden had an outstanding game for the 76ers, scoring 42 points and six three-pointers, including the game-winning shot. Despite slowing Joel Embiid at times, the Celtics did not double-team him frequently, indicating their trust in Al Horford’s ability to handle him one-on-one. Celtics were expected to revive the NBA title’s dream in this match.
Game 4 – Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers
The Boston Celtics had a golden opportunity to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Philadelphia 76ers, but they blew it. The Celtics opened Game 4 with a 2-1 lead and all the urgency of a hungover sloth. They found enough energy to erase a 16-point, third-quarter deficit and force overtime against a Philadelphia team trying equally hard to give them the series. Still, Boston stalled its final possession so much that Marcus Smart’s potential winning 3-pointer failed to beat the game clock by a fraction of a second in a 116-115 loss.
It is hard to say which is the more significant failure — the Celtics’ lacklustre performance through three quarters or their absentmindedness on each team’s final play. Either way, they blew a golden opportunity to push the Sixers to the brink.
The Celtics had nearly a complete shot clock to respond, and they did not. First-year head coach Joe Mazzulla opted not to call a timeout, even as Smart still held the ball at halfcourt with nine seconds left and no play developing. Smart passed to Tatum, who waited five seconds to drive the lane. He attracted a double team, fired crosscourt to Smart again, and the clock expired before he could release his winner.
It was more evidence of Boston’s inability to seize the moment that can break an opponent. The Celtics had been there just five minutes before when Mazzulla did not call a timeout on the last possession of a tie game in regulation. They ran a similar play — Tatum drawing a second defender, dishing to Smart at the arc — and this time, the worst shooting option on the floor for Boston front-rimmed the winning attempt.
Despite these shortcomings, the Celtics remain the heavy favorites to clinch the NBA title, which is a mere 10 victories away. The odds are stacked in their favor at +165 to win the championship, a strong position for any team at this stage in the playoffs. For Celtics fans looking to place their bets, they can rely on the convenience of Massachusetts Betting Apps.
Last year’s blown leads in Game 5 of the conference semis against the Milwaukee Bucks, Game 6 of the East finals against the Miami Heat, and Game 4 of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors all would have paved an easier path for the Celtics. Their no-shows for prolonged stretches of Games 1 and 4 of this series and Game 5 against the Atlanta Hawks in the last round are self-imposed roadblocks.
The Heat or New York Knicks await in the conference finals and more people than not picked both teams to lose in the opening round. A chance to play for the championship — the “unfinished business” that is their playoff slogan — is at arm’s length for the Celtics; only they have to flex on Philadelphia first.
Harden has put together a pair of all-world outings, and still, Boston had every chance to win both, if not for poor execution (and strategy) on both ends when the pressure cooks. Mess around more and Harden is bound to steal the Celtics’ lunch. They are genuinely starved if Harden is feasting more than them in the clutch.
Celtics lose Game 4 after botching the final play.
In Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals series, the Boston Celtics lost 116-115 in overtime due to a failed final play. James Harden’s three-pointer gave the 76ers the lead with 19 seconds remaining, ample time for Boston to attempt a last shot. However, Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla chose not to call a timeout and allowed his players to handle the play. Jayson Tatum received the ball, but his move toward the basket was too late, and he passed to Marcus Smart, who was open.
Unfortunately, Smart’s shot missed the buzzer, rendering it ineffective, and Philadelphia won 116-115, tying the series at 2-2. After unimpressive performances in Games 2 and 3, Harden played exceptionally well in Game 4, with 42 points, including six three-pointers. He tied the game at the end of regulation before making the game-winning shot.
Celtics HC explains end-of-game decisions vs 76ers
Boston Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla explained his decision not to call a timeout during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Philadelphia 76ers. Mazzulla acknowledged that he should have called a timeout at the end of overtime to get more chances. He also noted that the 76ers are skilled at switching personnel and coverages after timeouts. Ultimately, the Celtics lost to the 76ers in overtime after Mazzulla decided not to call a timeout.
Evaluating the Celtics’ defence of Joel Embiid in Game 4 loss
The Philadelphia 76ers won a thrilling overtime game against the Boston Celtics on Sunday with a game-winning three-pointer by James Harden. Joel Embiid was the main force behind the victory, scoring 34 points, grabbing 13 rebounds, and dishing out four assists. While the Celtics managed to slow down Embiid at times, his talent and ability to draw defences made an impact throughout the game.
Boston’s Al Horford had an impressive defensive performance, blocking five shots, including four from Embiid. Still, the Celtics did not double-team Embiid frequently, indicating their trust in Horford’s ability to handle him one-on-one.
The Boston Celtics had a chance to take a commanding lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Philadelphia 76ers, but they squandered it with a botched final play in Game 4. The Celtics had the ball with almost a complete shot clock left to respond to James Harden’s game-winning three-pointer for the Sixers, but they failed to execute, and Marcus Smart’s potential winning three-pointer missed the buzzer by a fraction of a second.
The loss ties the series at 2-2 and puts the Celtics in a must-win situation for Game 5. Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla’s decision not to call a timeout on the final play has drawn criticism, and he has since acknowledged that he should have called a timeout to give his team a better chance to score.