Celts Jayson Tatum wins Embiids 70ft lift decided late

Celts’ Jayson Tatum wins; Embiid’s 70ft lift decided late – ESPN

Tim BontempsESPN1:22 AM ET3 minute read

PHILADELPHIA — When Jayson Tatum’s step-back 3 pointer fell through the net at the Wells Fargo Center with 1.3 seconds remaining in Saturday night’s thriller between the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers, it looked like the entire world might have he just won the game for the Celtics.

As it turns out, Tatum did — but just barely.

Joel Embiid caught the inbound pass that followed, and his 70-foot lever hit nothing but the net at the other end — but it came just a split second after the final buzzer sounded. Rather than sending that game into overtime, it somehow made the 110-107 loss even more daunting for the 76ers.

“I don’t care,” Embiid said when asked if it was almost worse that his shot was late. “It didn’t count. But I think it’s a good highlight for everyone, social media and all that stuff.

“But it didn’t count and we lost the game. It’s frustrating to lose these types of games, especially when you’re winning by so much margin. It is frustrating.”

Embiid was spectacular, finishing with 41 points, 12 rebounds and five assists in just under 40 minutes for Philadelphia (39-20). But that didn’t stop the 76ers from losing to Boston for the third time in three encounters this season. That coupled with Boston, who held a four-game lead in the standings with 23 games left, severely hurt the 76ers’ chances of catching up with their rivals.

The Sixers extended a 15-point lead and let the Celtics back in the game during a 23-3 run that stretched through the final minutes of the third quarter and the opening minutes of the fourth.

For Boston, the memorable moment was Tatum rising and burying that step back 3. It wasn’t Tatum’s finest overall performance, who finished with 18 points in 7-for-17 shooting with 13 rebounds and six assists and five turnovers in 36 minutes. But when Boston needed him to deliver, he stepped up and slammed the dagger over 76ers guard De’Anthony Melton’s strong defense.

“Break up and have a game,” Tatum said of his thoughts on the last game. “Felt [Melton] leaned, snapped it back for the move and fired, which I’d worked on a thousand times before.

Tatum’s shot came from a similar set Boston used against the Cleveland Cavaliers earlier this year. It’s a game the Celtics have used on and off for the past few years and was originally developed by current president of basketball operations Brad Stevens while he was coaching at Boston.

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla later said he stole the game from Stevens.

“I think it’s a read,” Mazzulla said. “You can make a lot of different things out of it [that set]. So it’s just a matter of reading where the defenders are. [Marcus] Smart made a great game, [Tatum] did a good job breaking up.

“In situations like this, the players have to play and they did.”

The Sixers said they could live with how Boston’s last possession played out, with head coach Doc Rivers praising Melton’s defense and Tatum tipping his cap.

“I mean, he came down, they threw him the ball, he backed off. … It’s probably a shot he’s working on,” Rivers said. “The best scenario was to make it difficult for him. He hit it hard.

“Sometimes you have to live with it.”

Philadelphia also had to live with the fact that Embiid’s miracle shot didn’t count. While most of the 20,993 in attendance became furious after the shot, the 76ers – led by Embiid himself – didn’t need to watch a replay to know it didn’t count.

PJ Tucker, who immediately snatched the ball after Tatum’s shot went through and smashed it to Embiid, said the Sixers players realized it was late.

“The other guys on the bench knew straight away,” he said.

“Yeah, I was pretty sure,” Rivers said with a smile when asked if he knew it wouldn’t count. “I hoped [I was wrong]but I was pretty sure.”

Embiid credited Celtics guard Derrick White with getting in his way just enough to force him to make an extra move before releasing the shot.

“I mean, I wish I’d shot it earlier,” he said, “but when I turned around, I saw Derrick White there, so I couldn’t really take it off, so I kind of had to go back to my right side to try.” to get it up.”

Then Embiid added – with a wink – “So unfortunately the story of my life.”