Celtics Follow Every Step in the Book on How Not to Beat Sixers in Game 4 Loss

Celtics Follow Every Step in the Book on How Not to Beat Sixers in Game 4 LossPHILADELPHIA — It was almost as though the Celtics had a list of the best ways to lose to the Sixers and went down the column checking off each box.

Turn the ball over and allow transition baskets. Check.

Allow free reign of the offensive glass and ample second-chance points. Check.

Help them make up for the lack of a consistent scorer by sending them to the foul line with regularity. Check.

Squander a 15-point halftime lead and an 18-point lead in the third quarter to lose 92-83 and fall into a 2-2 tie in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Check.

"Everything we did was the prescription that you don't do to beat them," Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said.

The Celtics knew exactly how they were beaten Friday in Game 4 of the best-of-seven series, because it was exactly what they have insisted they could not do against an athletic team like the Sixers. The Celtics handed out 17 turnovers, helped the Sixers score 27 fastbreak points and gave away 17 offensive rebounds. The Sixers shot less than 38 percent from the field, but made up for that by getting to the hoop and drawing fouls, allowing them to shoot 25-for-36 from the free-throw line.

The Sixers showed resolve by charging back multiple times when the Celtics appeared to have shut the door, but their comeback was aided by the Celtics setting up the perfect circumstances.

"We've got to expect that," Paul Pierce said. "When their backs are against the wall, you've got to expect that. They're down, on their home court. You've got to expect them to come out and play their best. Obviously, it wasn't their best in the first half, but they came out in the second half and used the energy of the crowd and we just didn't respond well."

The Sixers, particularly reserve forward Thaddeus Young, seemed to track down every loose ball or unsecured rebound. When the Celtics were a split-second late, they were often left grasping at air or committing a foul.

"They got the whistle a little bit more," Kevin Garnett said. "It seemed like they were getting those small things. That's what it is. They seemed to be a little more aggressive and were getting the whistle."

The Celtics have done many things right during the playoffs, even in some of their losses. They have not had to be perfect to beat the Hawks or the Sixers, but they have had to take care of certain requirements to keep from playing into their opponents' strengths entirely.

In Game 4, the Celtics covered just about all of those things, but not in the manner they would have liked.

Have a question for Ben Watanabe? Send it to him via Twitter at @BenjeeBallgame or send it here.

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