Celtics 114, Sixers 112: Quick observations from Philly's NBA playoffs elimination

Celtics guard Marcus Smart puts back a miss for a basket past Sixers forward Dario Saric, center Joel Embiid and guard Ben Simmons late in the fourth-quarter in game five of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Wednesday, May 9, 2018 in Boston.

Difficult pass

Trailing 114-112 with 2.4 seconds left after a Marcus Smart made free throw, the Sixers Ben Simmons took the ball out from under the basket and threw a pass more than three-quarters court intended for Robert Covington that Marcus Smart intercepted. Simmons looked to make a shorter pass but Boston guarded everybody tightly, so he threw it three-quarters court with several Celtics around the ball.

Defensive play of the game

The Sixers had the matchup they wanted, Dario Saric in the low block against Smart, but Smart, an adept defender held his ground, caused an Al Horford steal. Jayson Tatum would score on a layup to give the Celtics a 111-109 lead with 22.5 seconds left.

Shot the Sixers wanted

Trailing 111-109, The Sixers got the play they wanted, Embiid getting deep inside but missing a shot over Aron Baynes. Embiid then missed a tip and it was Boston ball with 10.8 second left.

Horford picked it up

For the longest time Al Horford was relatively quiet but he was the one led the Celtics fourth quarter effort. Horford gave the Celtics a 96-94 lead by scoring on a spinning reverse layup against Dario Saric. He then beat Saric on a medium ranger jumper off the dribble. Then Horford made a steal and Terry Rozier scored on a finger roll driving layup, the completing of 10-0 run for the Celtics

Third quarter Embiid post-ups got Sixers back in game

Embiid scored on a three-point play on his first second half touch in the low post with 6 minutes and 55 seconds left in the third quarter. From that point on, he continued to get down low and was effective offensively. Before this sequence he had 12 points for the game. From that point on, he would score 11 and got the Sixers back in the game, trailing just 83-82 entering the fourth quarter after being down by nine at halftime. Embiid even caused the Celtics to double-team him, something coach Brad Stevens didn’t want to do because it opened up room for three-point shots.

Celtics capitalized on defensive mismatches

More than any game this series the Celtics were going to make the 76ers pay when Redick and Marco Belinelli were on the floor.

Redick opened by defending Jaylen Brown and the Celtics second-year swingman scored six straight points. The Celtics tried to post Redick up as much as possible.

When Belinelli came in the game, he was guarding Marcus Smart, who several times aggressively took it to the basket. By beating Belinelli off the dribble, Smart was either able to finish at the basket, or hit an open teammate. In the fourth quarter both Smart and Brown had post-ups on Redick.  Brown ended with 24 points and Smart had 14

Bad omen

The Sixers shot 54.8 percent from the field in the first half and trailed by nine at intermission. Of course Boston shot 52.3 percent.

Lacking transition defense

The Celtics led 61-52 at halftime after closing the second quarter on a 19-6 run, including an 8-0 run to end the half. The biggest culprit was the Sixers transition defense.