Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart held onto a glimmer of hope once the buzzer sounded on Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday.
On Boston’s final play of the game, Smart got off a rushed 3-point attempt that dropped through the net as time expired in overtime. But there was no joyous celebration afterward from Smart, unsure if he released the basketball from his fingertips in time.
The final verdict came from the officials going to a video replay and it didn’t go Smart’s way, which also sealed a 116-115 loss for the Celtics as the 76ers evened up the best-of-seven series at Wells Fargo Center.
“I couldn’t really tell. It was close,” Smart told reporters, as seen on NBC Sports Boston postgame coverage. “It was either going to be or wasn’t. So, it wasn’t good. Good look, though. Great read by (Jayson Tatum). Made a good play. Made it, just not in time.”
There wasn’t a ton of drama in the moment for Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla, who had a clear vantage point of the play and felt that Smart’s shot wouldn’t count.
“Yeah, I kind of knew when I saw it,” Mazzulla told reporters, as seen on NBC Sports Boston postgame coverage.
It was the second time in the game that Smart had a chance to win it at the buzzer. Tatum also dished it off to the longest-tenured Celtic at the end of regulation, but Smart’s attempt hit the front rim and fell harmlessly to the floor
Smart’s shot in overtime was much closer, as having another second would have made him the hero. And not giving him that time was something Tatum lamented.
“I waited a second too late when they came to double,” Tatum told reporters, per league-provided video. “When (Joel) Embiid came over, tried to kick it out, but I probably should have went a dribble or two earlier.”