Down three, Rajon Rondo dribbled the clock almost all the way down before attempting a drive-and-kick. It was a curious decision, since the Sixers weren’t going to help into the paint up three with that little time on the clock.
Eventually, Chris Johnson got the ball, but he stepped out of bounds before he could unleash his shot. Predictably, the shot went in.
Anyway, this loss ends a two-game winning streak for the Celtics (25-56), who finish the season with a 1-3 record against the Philadelphia 76ers (17-63). Kelly Olynyk scored a career-high 28 points, Jeff Green dropped 27 and Avery Bradley chipped in 23, while Rajon Rondo racked up eight points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds in the losing effort.
Michael Carter-Williams led Philly with 21 points and 14 rebounds.
Fourth quarter, :15.3, Sixers 111-108: Inbounding must be a lot harder than it looks the Celtics were whistled for a five-second violation to seemingly kill their chances, but then the Sixers lost the ball out of bounds while trying to inbound against Boston’s pressure.
We’re not done yet, folks.
Fourth quarter, :25.1, Sixers 110-105: Henry Sims with the dagger. The second-year big man drops a baseline jump shot on a kick-out by MCW and the Celtics look sunk.
Fourth quarter, :38.4, Sixers 108-105: Olynyk just loves making plays that get reviewed. He drains a wing shot that was ruled a two, looked to be a three, but upon review stayed a two.
Fourth quarter, :42.8, Sixers 108-103: Hard luck strikes Boston again. Olynyk got back on a Sixers fast-break and had good position to draw a charge when Wroten tried to dunk over him.
The problem was, Olynyk was in the restricted circle. After a review, the defensive foul call was upheld and Wroten knocked down his free throws.
Fourth quarter, 2:56, Sixers 104-101: It’s not often Rondo makes the mistake that almost costs the Celtics. After an and-one layup by Green, Varnado missed two free throws badly and Bass made a block and a hustle play to save the ball with the Celtics down by three.
But Rondo brought the ball up and airballed a pull-up jumper. Bradley hit a jumper and Olynyk hit a three later to bail him out somewhat, but the opportunity was lost for the moment.
Fourth quarter, 5:45, Sixers 99-93: This game might be meaningless except for lottery purposes, but Jeff Green is battling to the end.
No, we’re not being sarcastic.
Green hit a three, blocked a reverse layup attempt by Sims and then swooped in for a layup to close the gap to six points.
Fourth quarter, 8:43, Sixers 96-88: When two teams struggle to score, the one that gets a couple of lucky buckets can have a huge advantage. Brandon Davies hit a tough fallaway floater and a sweeping jumper to get Philly out of a tight spot, putting the Sixers back in control.
End of third quarter, Sixers 86-84: Before Avery Bradley and Chris Johnson happened, the Sixers were cruising to an easy win.
But then, Bradley and Johnson changed that.
Bradley and Johnson combined for 17 points in the frame, with the final three by Johnson narrowing the gap to two points. Bradley, who is 2-for-9 from deep (the same as the entire Philly team) adjusted his approach in the third and focused his efforts inside the arc.
It was a much more successful strategy for Bradley and the Celtics. Bradley now leads all scorers with 21 points.
Third quarter, 6:15, Sixers 77-63: So, it’s not a 19-point deficit any more. It’s just your plain, old, run-of-the-mill 14-point deficit. Much more manageable.
Or something like that. A jumper by Bass and a three by Olynyk help narrow the gap after Hollis Thompson helped extend Philly’s lead. No matter the consequences, the Celtics will keep gunning away beyond the arc.
They are shooting much better so far in this quarter, at 50 percent. They’re only 1-for-2, but, hey, it’s math.
Halftime, Sixers 67-50: After scoring just 17 points in the second quarter — or just five more points than Green scored in the first quarter — the Celtics fell behind by as many as 19 points and now trail heartily at halftime.
The Celtics just keep on misfiring from deep, where they are 3-for-11, and have committed 10 turnovers, twice as many as the Sixers. Wroten, Young, Carter-Williams and Williams have all parlayed Philly’s fast pace and Boston’s carelessness with the ball into double-digit point totals.
Somehow, the Celtics are getting trounced 46-18 in the paint, despite the Sixers not really having much of a paint presence. That’s because it’s all fast-break layups, which tend to come in the paint.
Second quarter, 3:41, Sixers 61-46: At some point, the Celtics need to consider that chucking up 3-pointers might not be their best avenue to victory. They are 3-for-10 from deep and have now fallen behind by 26 on points in the paint.
Second quarter, 5:50, Sixers 53-43: Thanks to making some tough shots, the Celtics aren’t getting run off the court yet. But if they cool off at all, this could get ugly.
The Celtics are shooting 52 percent from the field, but only 16 of their points have come in the paint. They’re not getting easy ones and they are giving the ball up to the Sixers, leading to transition opportunities.
The Sixers have forced eight turnovers and hold a 10-3 lead in fast-break points, including a breakaway dunk by Wroten after Young picked Kelly Olynyk’s pocket.
Second quarter, 9:14, Sixers 43-38: Tony Wroten makes every touch count. And by “count,” we mean “not last very long.”
The Sixers guard bolts down the court as soon as he touched the ball, sometimes leading to layups and fast-break opportunities, sometimes leading to head-scratching results. For now it’s working for the Sixers, who have opened the second quarter on a 10-5 run to take their largest lead of the game.
End of first quarter, game tied 33-33: The Celtics learned the hard way that they cannot leave Elliot Williams open.
The rest of us learned there was an NBA player named Elliot Williams.
With the help of Williams’ six first-quarter points, the Sixers managed to fight back from a 10-point deficit to knot things up. They did it with contributions from Williams, 5-foot-10 guard Casper Ware and former Celtics 10-day contract signee Jarvis Varnado.
Still, Jeff Green had a nice first quarter, hitting five of his seven shots for a game-high 12 points.
April basketball between lottery-bound teams — it’s fantastic!
First quarter, 2:39, Celtics 27-25: Rondo returned at the 3:06 mark, and not a moment too soon for the Celtics. Phil Pressey did what he could in Rondo’s place, but there is only so much the 5-foot-11 Pressey can do against the 6-foot-6 Michael Carter Williams.
MCW had little trouble shooting and jumping over Pressey for eight points (on 4-for-6 shooting) and six rebounds.
First quarter, 6:52, Celtics 16-9: Rajon Rondo gave it a go, but he might regret that he did.
The Celtics are off to a promising start, hitting seven of their first nine shots. But Rondo went down while playing defense and took a while to get up. The Celtics eventually needed to call a timeout and had to help Rondo off the court.
Replays seemed to show Rondo got hit in the head by Thaddeus Young’s elbow.
6:13 p.m.: After testing his leg with a medium-strenuous warm-up, Rondo will attempt to play. He will start, although one assumes he will be under close surveillance by the training staff.
5:49 p.m.: “If he can play, he’s playing.”
Celtics coach Brad Stevens provided that update on Rajon Rondo, who is a literal game-time decision with a bruised left shin. The point guard has missed the last two games and is still uncertain for tonight.
Rondo went through this morning’s entire shootaround, Stevens said, which was progress from the Saturday, when he was not able to make it through the whole session in Cleveland. If Rondo cannot go, he’ll join a crowded group sidelined for Boston.
Kris Humphries and Jared Sullinger are out once again, and Jerryd Bayless is not even with the team. It will be another skeleton crew for Stevens.
The projected starters appear below.
8 a.m. ET: Compared to the rest of this season, the Boston Celtics are surging to the finish. They have won two in a row and conclude their road schedule with a visit to the Philadelphia 76ers, who have lost four straight games.
With Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger, Jerryd Bayless and Kris Humphries all missing Saturday’s game with injuries, the shorthanded Celtics (25-55) earned a convincing win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. All four players’ statuses are unclear against the Sixers (17-63), although Celtics coach Brad Stevens has sounded hopeful that at least a couple of them should be able to play.
Join us for updates and analysis from the Wells Fargo Center during the game, which tips off at 7 p.m.