Kevin Garnett's controversial illegal screen drew most of the attention, but a decision by the Celtics a few seconds earlier may have had just as big an impact on the outcome of Boston's 82-81 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
In a game in which almost nothing seemed to go according to plan, the Sixers got the ball with about 28 seconds remaining and a one-point lead in Game 2 of the best-of-seven playoff series. The Celtics needed to either try to make a defensive stop or foul twice, as early as possible — they had a foul to give — to leave themselves enough time for a game-tying or game-winning possession.
The Celtics instead let 14 seconds run off the clock before committing their first foul, forcing them to foul again and send Evan Turner to the line with only 12 seconds remaining. Turner hit both to give the Sixers a three-point lead.
Garnett's foul on the ensuing possession drew hisses from the crowd at the TD Garden, which was more than could be said for the Celtics' odd series that came less than a minute before. The fans just seemed perplexed by not just the decision to foul on the earlier possession, but also by the timing of the foul. Rivers tried after the game to clarify his thinking.
"My thinking was, it'd be a four-second differential, and there's no guarantee you're going to get the rebound," Rivers said. "Then they have the foul to give, so they foul and now you're down to two seconds. That's a tough way to score. So, I was hoping we could foul.
"I wanted to foul two seconds earlier than that, but we didn't."
Rajon Rondo said Rivers made "the right decision" to foul, but did not elaborate. The Celtics mostly just seemed shocked at the loss, and the curious foul was yet another in a series of weird incidents at the end of the game.