Foul trouble prevented the Boston Celtics from finishing off a sweep of the Philadelphia 76ers with the 103-92 loss Monday night extending the series.
The Celtics were fully culpable in their own demise as well, committing a ghastly 15 turnovers compared to just eight for the Sixers to set up a Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Wednesday back at TD Garden.
Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Morris and Marcus Smart each racked up three personal fouls before the first half was out, preventing Boston from ever settling in on the offensive end. Brown later picked up a technical foul in the third quarter, as did head coach Brad Stevens.
It was apparent from the get-go that the Celtics offense may not be operating at full strength. The team missed each of its first four field goal attempts, all on four separate possessions without an offensive rebound; Boston’s first make was an Aron Baynes 3-pointer, foretelling of the bizarre night for the Celtics in the offensive end.
Baynes, who has nearly tripled his number of made 3-pointers this postseason (8) from the regular season (3) attempted more shots from beyond the arc than anyone else for Boston. He finished the game with nine points (2-for-6 from 3)
As a team, the Celtics shot 11 for 32 (34 percent) from downtown. It’s not as though the Sixers were draining all of their shots from the perimeter, either, as Philadelphia shot a mediocre 7 for 26 (27 percent) from 3-point land.
What made the Sixers click was the aforementioned foul trouble and the lack of fear they played with inside the arc. Philadelphia attempted 19 more field goals than Boston over the course of the game, the discrepancy more than enough to overcome a lackluster field goal percentage.
Dario Saric led the Sixers with 25 points while TJ McConnell poured in 19 points on a remarkable 9 for 12 shooting performance in his first start of the series. It was a new career high for McConnell, regular or postseason.
Joel Embiid (15 points,13 rebounds) and Ben Simmons (19 points, 13 rebounds) each recorded double-doubles for Philadelphia.
Boston never jumped out a lead larger than six points and fell behind at the half, 47-43. That escalated to 76-65 after three quarters and the lead swelled to as many as 18 points during the fourth.
The Celtics had chances on back-to-back possessions to get back within single-digits, the Sixers ahead 92-82; instead, they airballed a pair of 3s.
Tatum cracked 20 points for the sixth game in a row, extending the NBA record for a rookie. Morris had 17 points and Al Horford had 10 points and 10 rebounds – on just six field goal attempts. Smart had 14 and Terry Rozier III had 11.
Brown, still coming off the bench as he recovers from a hamstring injury, had eight points in 23 minutes for Boston.