Sixers on brink of elimination after heartbreaking Game 3 loss to Celtics



The Sixers are down 0-3 to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals following a 101-98 overtime loss Saturday filled with opportunities and missed chances. 

The Sixers led by four with 1:05 to play before turnovers and missed shots kicked in. But it was errors that put them in the overtime situation in the first place. 

They had a chance for the last shot of regulation. JJ Redick committed a bad pass, which the Celtics recovered for a Jaylen Brown go-ahead fast break with 1.7 seconds remaining. Just when it seemed like the Sixers had squandered away their opportunity, Marco Belinelli came up with a Belinelli-style, difficult-looking shot to send the game into overtime. 

In overtime, the Sixers again held the lead, 98-97. But Al Horford scored off an inbounds play with 5.5 seconds left, then stole an inbounds pass intended for Embiid. Horford made two free throws, and Belinelli missed a desperation three-pointer at the buzzer.

Ultimately, though, the Celtics’ aggressive defense and speed on the break gave them the edge in a critical game, also the Celtics' first road win of the postseason. Game 4 will be Monday night at 6 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center. 

• Joel Embiid pulverized Aron Baynes with a driving dunk from Ben Simmons that felt like it was going to bring down the basket … and the building. For context: Baynes is not a small player by any means. He’s listed at 6-foot-10, 260 pounds. With 22 points and 19 rebounds, Embiid became the first Sixer with at least five double-doubles in his first six career postseason games.

• Simmons bounced back from his one-point struggle in Game 2 with 16 points off 8 for 14 shooting (along with eight assists, eight rebounds and four turnovers). Simmons is daunting to stop when he drives the basket. At times early on, he looked too unselfish, trying to find an open teammate rather than attacking himself. Simmons should continue to take advantage of his size and the matchup problems it causes, especially on a fast break.

• There was a one-point performance, however. Robert Covington scored off a single free throw. He shot 0 for 8 from the field, including 0 for 4 from three in the first quarter alone.

• The Celtics were led by a game-high 24 points from rookie Jayson Tatum. He picked up three fouls in the first half but played disciplined ball to go foul-less the rest of the way.

• T.J. McConnell received more well-deserved playing time. The Sixers went on an 8-0 run at the end of the first after he and Redick checked in with three minutes to go. Brown also paired McConnell and Simmons, as he has previously done. McConnell logged just over 14 minutes.

• Justin Anderson once again did not play. Have to think he would be able to bring a defensive spark, even in a limited role, as he did against the Heat. Anderson remained engaged in the game, at times being the only player standing on the bench.

• The Sixers were fueled during the regular season by the Eagles' success, so it was appropriate for Nick Foles to ring the bell before their first home game of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Contact Us