Sixers eliminated in thrilling Game 5 loss to Celtics



BOSTON — The Sixers' season is over.

Their hunt to become the first NBA team to fight back from a 3-0 deficit to win a seven-game series ended in Game 5 with a down-to-the-wire 114-112 loss to the Celtics at TD Garden Wednesday.

In a battle that came down to the final possession, the Sixers fell short in the deciding game that featured 21 lead changes and 11 ties.

The Celtics move on to face the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. 

• A combination of missed threes, turnovers and failed free throws totaled up in Game 5. The Sixers shot 8 for 21 from long range, 24 for 31 at the line and gave up 16 points off 17 turnovers. Brett Brown considered that “leaving points on the table,” and they have an extra sting given the two-point game differential. 

• The Sixers were in this game until the very end. After falling behind by nine at halftime, they fought back in the third. The Sixers outscored the Celtics, 30-22, in the quarter and led, 94-90, with 8:51 to play, but the Celtics went on a 10-0 spurt to claim a six-point edge.  

• The final minutes of the game became a race for the Celtics to build upon their lead and the Sixers frantically trying to catch up. And the Sixers did. The Sixers were up four with 1:37 remaining before the Celtics made another push. 

• JJ Redick drained a three to make it a one-point game with 3.8 seconds to go. T.J. McConnell fouled Marcus Smart, who had been 7 for 11 at the line. Smart went 1 of 2, leaving the window open for the Sixers to pull off a heroic last shot. That wouldn’t happen. Smart picked off Simmons’ long inbounds pass as the buzzer sounded and the Celtics advanced. 

• Redick is a student of game film. This likely will be one he watches back a few times. Redick (14 points) shot 5 for 13 from the field and 2 for 7 from three. That includes his key trey down the stretch, but overall he was off the mark in 38 minutes. Redick also ran into foul trouble with five whistles. 

• Joel Embiid played in a mask without goggles. He scored 27 points as he went 9 for 18 from the field and 0 for 4 from three. Embiid pulled down 12 rebounds.

He had a chance to tie the game with 12.5 seconds remaining, but he missed a shot over Aron Baynes at the rim. He was able to grab his own rebound only to have Terry Rozier smack the ball off the center’s body and out of bounds.

Embiid will not use his mask for an excuse, and it will be left to wonder how much it impacted him in the playoffs.

• Jayson Tatum continued to look more experienced than a rookie with another 20-plus point game. He led the Celtics with 25.

• Dario Saric came through with 27 points and 10 rebounds. Ben Simmons posted 18 points, eight boards and six assists. 

• Brad Stevens responded to the Sixers’ lineup change of inserting McConnell by moving Jaylen Brown back into the starting five. Smart came off the bench. Brown had been playing with the second unit after suffering a hamstring injury in the first round. The athletic Brown scored 24 points in 31 minutes. McConnell had nine points, six rebounds and five assists in 38 minutes.

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