Playoff results, May 10, 2018
2. Boston Celtics 114 – 3. Philadelphia 76ers 112 (Celtics win 4-1)
What happened in the Playoffs today?
1. Celtics trust their own Process
With 31 seconds left in Game 5 between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers, Terry Rozier set up the play. He ran the two-man game with Al Horford, driving to the left corner. Rozier passed to Horford on the left wing and Horford passed to Marcus Smart at the top of the key.
As all of this was happening, Jayson Tatum snuck behind Ben Simmons towards the basket. Simmons was recovering to Smart as the pick-and-roll sucked away the rest of the Philly defense.
Smart whipped a pass to the cutting Tatum who scored on a layup to put Boston ahead by two points with 23 seconds to go. Tatum, who has been excellent all series long hit the biggest shot of his career so far with that layup.
In the ensuing possession, Philly got the ball to Embiid inside. He missed a close layup attempt and then missed the tip-in. Embiid coralled the rebound and was going to go up for another shot but Rozier snuck into the play to tip it off Embiid’s leg. Boston ball.
Rozier had some difficulty early in the game with TJ McConnell manning him. But he still had a solid game with 17 points. That tip was a huge hustle play that killed Philly’s chances to tie the game.
The Sixers weren’t done fighting. A three-pointer by JJ Redick put them back in the game and cut the deficit to only one point with 2.4 seconds left. Smart had a chance to seal the win but he missed the first free throw. Smart intended to miss the second to let time expire but he sank it giving the Sixers a chance to inbound the ball.
Simmons tried to find one of his teammates with a full court heave but guess who was there to intercept the pass. Marcus Smart. He came back this series and gave the Celtics a boost off the bench. His hustle and defense was a game changer. Smart had his best game of the series with 14 points six assists and three steals.
Boston had several heroes in this game. They had several heroes in this series. Horford and Baynes tag teamed Joel Embiid in the paint. Jaylen Brown scored 24 points to back up the 25 of Tatum. Rozier and Smart were a terror in the back court.
Philly’s Process took centerstage this season. Their run to the Playoffs, especially the 16-game win streak to end the season was a fulfillment of three years of tanking. That can’t be taken away from them.
But Boston had their own process. The played smart, drafted the best players available and had intelligent free agent signings. Even when their superstars went down with an injury, they didn’t miss a beat.
Now, this young team will attempt to do something that hasn’t been done in the past seven years. Stop LeBron James from making the Finals.
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