Boston struggled mightily in Game 3. Its shooters had mediocre range, missing 29 of the 45 shots they attempted.
But when it meant the most, when Philadelphia attempted to mount a late surge, the Celtics did found their range.
After a time, it became strange how they were able to deflect the Sixers’ blows one after another.
Philadelphia’s substitute Georges Niang hit a scoring streak early in the fourth quarter, scoring seven straight goals for the host squad. White and Marcus, though, broke his run by dumping buckets of their own.
De’Anthony Melton made it 97-92 by sinking a 3-pointer from the left corner. Malcolm Brogdon of Boston successfully replied from the left flank.
Later, with 3:51 left, Embiid tipped in his own miss to make the score 100-94. Horford answered with another three, keeping the Sixers at bay by using a ball fake to obtain an open look.
Jayson Tatum then scored seven of his team’s final 11 points, compared to Philadelphia’s six.
Embiid is not in good enough shape to carry these players
However, it’s very obvious that Embiid is not fully healed from his right knee sprain despite the fact that the big man’s statistics increased and he appeared less out of sync in Game 3.
He stated in Boston that a typical injury would last four weeks, but as of right now, he has only been recovering for two.
That is what makes his current situation so challenging. This season, Embiid has frequently carried the Sixers.
But because of how poorly his teammates are performing offensively, Boston’s defense is now outnumbering him.
He was once surrounded by a triple-team from coach Joe Mazzulla’s squad near the end of the third quarter.
No home court advantage
It had been 18 days since the Sixers had played at home. They had the longest break of any team going into the conference semifinals, completed their first-round sweep of Brooklyn on the road, and then began this series in Boston.
In other words, their gathering ought to have been prepared for maximum volume and influence.
Some of the most boisterous sports fans would have accepted nothing less than a frenzy had the MVP ceremony been included.
Well, they gave it a shot for a time, directing their wrath toward Smart in particular throughout the first half.
However, Boston avoided completely succumbing to the anti-hospitality, and as the minutes passed, both the intensity and volume of the vitriol diminished.
The majority of people left the stadium by the time the last buzzer sounded, and get this: Sunday’s Game 4 is scheduled as a matinee, which is often less boisterous than night games. Things may not get any better for these people.
Or the squad that is currently in dire need of them.