If there’s an obstacle in their way, the Boston Celtics will just find a way to get around it.
It’s been on display through the season: overcoming injuries, coming back from considerable deficits and pulling off wins that seemed impossible.
And Saturday night at Wells Fargo Center, the Celtics proved yet again that arguably their strongest attributes are their mental toughness and perseverance.
On the verge of victory in Game 3 of their second-round NBA playoff series with the Philadelphia 76ers, Boston let a regulation win slip through its fingers as Marco Belinelli delivered a clutch, game-tying basket as the fourth-quarter buzzer sounded, sending the game into overtime. Philadelphia had all the momentum entering the extra frame, which manifested itself in the Sixers grabbing a five-point lead 1:19 into overtime.
But instead of wallowing away, the Celtics stayed the course. Boston shot 80 percent from the field in the remainder of overtime and also played stifling defense, forcing the 76ers into tough shots and critical turnovers. In the end, the C’s showed a far greater will to win, which they earned by a final score of 101-98.
After the big Game 3 win, Brad Stevens revealed what he said to his team prior to the overtime period, and the head coach’s message proved to be spot-on.
The Celtics now own a commanding 3-0 series lead over the Sixers, but don’t expect the green to have any level of complacency entering Monday night’s Game 4.
Here are some other notes from Celtics-76ers:
— Jayson Tatum continued his phenomenal rookie campaign with a game-high 24 points, 13 of which coming in the fourth quarter and overtime. The 20-year-old tapped into the record books with his Game 3 performance, as he became the first Celtics rookie in franchise history to score 20-plus points in five straight playoff games.
— Al Horford (13 points) was held scoreless in the first half but was Boston’s go-to man in overtime, notching seven points in the extra frame, including the go-ahead basket with 5.5 seconds remaining. Here’s what Horford had to say about the play:
— Jaylen Brown, who Stevens expected to be maxed out at 25 minutes, logged 29 minutes of on-court action and provided 16 points to go along with nine rebounds.
— After struggling on the road in the first-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks, Terry Rozier delivered a quality performance in the first game in Philly with 18 points, seven rebounds and three assists. He also hasn’t turned the ball over since the second quarter of Game 1.
— Philadelphia’s loss was to no fault of Joel Embiid, who stuffed the stat sheet with 22 points and 19 rebounds.
Thumbnail photo via Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports
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