The Philadelphia 76ers evened up their Eastern Conference semifinals series with the Boston Celtics, 2-2, in Game 4 on Sunday night.
Despite avoiding a potential 3-1 series deficit, 76ers head coach Doc Rivers wasn’t all smiles after Philadelphia’s 116-115 victory at Wells Fargo Center. Instead, Rivers took exception to a crucial no-call on Celtics star Jayson Tatum, which he felt could’ve cost the 76ers the game, and possibly the series.
“Jayson Tatum’s three was awful that that wasn’t called,” Rivers told reporters, as seen on NBA TV’s postgame coverage. “… It was a push-off. And the reason that it bugged me was because at the end of the game, there was these touch fouls. Jayson Tatum has a 360 foul. Marcus Smart and (P.J. Tucker) gets tangled up. Touch foul.”
In overtime, Tatum knocked down a huge 3-pointer, putting the Celtics on top, 115-113, with 37.3 seconds remaining. But in the process, Tatum did extend his right arm, which did cause Philadelphia guard Tyrese Maxey to move back, giving Tatum the airspace needed to connect on the go-ahead basket.
Evidently, the no-call proved to not matter, but could’ve easily had Boston not fumbled in the game’s final seconds, yet again. James Harden, who led all scorers with 42 points, delivered the nail in the coffin, just like he did in Game 1, sending the C’s to the locker room with another loss.
“I know it’s a big play, and I’m a big fan of refs not deciding, but that could’ve decided the game,” Rivers said.
With the Celtics handing the 76ers some major assistance, they failed at making Tuesday night’s Game 5 at TD Garden a series-clincher, guaranteeing a Game 6 in Philadelphia will be played.