PHILADELPHIA – The Boston Celtics have been Team composure, seemingly taking the ups and downs of every game in stride, rarely allowing it to get to them.
But things were different on Monday against Philadelphia, a game in which a slew of calls against Boston finally rattled them – even head coach Brad Stevens who picked up a rare technical just seconds after Jaylen Brown was called for a technical foul.
It was that kind of night for the Celtics as the Sixers kept their season alive for at least one more game with a 103-92 win.
Trailing by double digits with 1:12 to play, Stevens began to clear the bench.
Jayson Tatum recorded his sixth consecutive games with 20 or more points, as he led the Celtics with 20 points.
The Celtics return home to where they will get another shot at closing out the series on Wednesday.
Boston had its chances to put serious pressure on the Sixers, but consistently failed to make the game-changing shot or get the clutch defensive stop when it mattered most – the fourth quarter.
Philadelphia played with a heightened sense of urgency all game long, fueled in part by head coach Brett Brown making a last-minute lineup change by starting T.J. McConnell over a struggling Robert Covington.
McConnell had 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Despite the McConnell move making the Sixers a smaller team, they were indeed the aggressor most of the game.
The Celtics were used to being the bullies in this series, but could never establish the kind of overpowering physicality we saw in Games 1-3.
Boston couldn’t get any kind of traction through the first three quarters, with tempers beginning to flare and frustration mounting.
At one point, Terry Rozier and Joel Embiid got into it and were both hit with a technical foul for their run-in.
Philadelphia was able to continue building upon its first half lead in the third quarter which ended with the Celtics trailing 76-65.
You could sense it was going to be a rougher-than-usual night for the Celtics from the game’s early moments.
Boston held a slim 22-21 lead after the first quarter of play, but all was not well for Boston.
Shane Larkin suffered a left shoulder injury late in the quarter and was initially listed as questionable to return but did not.
And once again, the Celtics saw the fouls rack up at an alarmingly high rate, led by Jayson Tatum who had a pair of personal fouls against him in the first five minutes of play.
The fouls continued to mount for the rest of the Celtics who were called for 16 personal fouls in the first half compared to just eight against Philadelphia which went into the half ahead 47-43.