A Grim Return Home for the Sixers in Game 3 vs. the Celts

James Harden's chill streak continued, things got physical, and it was an unhappy birthday for P.J.

sixers celtics game 3

Jaylen Brown shoots the ball against Joel Embiid in the Sixers-Celtics Game 3 showdown. / Photograph by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Welcome to Philly, Boston! Jason Kelce rang the bell for tonight’s game with great enthusiasm, which is how he does everything. Maybe the home court advantage would make a difference? Eh, the Celtics started hot with the threes again, going four for their first four. Meantime, the Sixers had a little turnover problem early on. It was 14-4 at the nine-minute mark. At least Joel seemed to be moving well. His mom and dad flew in from Cameroon to celebrate his MVP presentation.

Alas, Tobias Harris picked up two fouls in the space of a breath not even halfway through the quarter. The boos were coming thick. The guys kept workin’ with a 6-0 run, though, and a Melton three made it 24-23 Celts. Embiid gave the Sixers the lead, then elbowed Marcus Smart in the face, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. Maxey kicked Smart in the groin on a drive, too, and Smart got called for the foul. What a pity. Close of the first: 29-28 Sixers! Hold on — Melton kicked the ball at the end, notching a T ’cause Grant Williams tattled on him: 29-29.

A third foul on Harris was a bullshit call. The Celts were grabbing all the rebounds, alas. These teams genuinely seem not to like each other. Hey, a Tucker three for his 38th birthday today! The Celts went on a run, but at least they finally got called for an offensive foul. And Maxey hit a miles-away three. Melton hit a legit three that was waved off for a shot-clock violation, then later corrected. At the half: Celts, 57-50. Harden was just 3-21 on field goals.

And he started the third with a foul, 15 seconds in. Things were not looking good.

But Embiid drained a three, Boston threw the ball away, Tucker hit another three, Tatum hurt his knee hurtling out of bounds, Horford was hit with a foul, and it was a three-point game. The crowd was on its feet. Tatum came back into the game, unfortunately. Embiid got a breather after he was called for a foul with two minutes left in the third and Boston up by seven. He looked gassed. Going into the fourth, Boston led, 88-77. “And the crowd’s getting a little restless,” Doris noted ominously. Harden was being decimated on social media; it hurt to even look. He hadn’t had a field goal since 8:38 in the second quarter.

Melton was playing his ass off. He hit a three, but Malcolm Brogdon matched it, quieting the fans. Embiid accidentally slammed Jaylen Brown’s head to the court, but you know, Brown’s head shouldn’t have been under Embiid. OMG, Harden drove to the basket: six-point game with four and change left. Embiid fought for a layup: four-point game! But f’ing Al Horford hit a three. Never did like the guy.

Harden hit a three; God bless him for keeping on keeping on, right, on such a bleak night for him? With 1:18 left, Tucker couldn’t get an inbounds in on time. Sheesh. Maxey put up an airball on a three, and it was all over. The Sixers dropped Game 3 to the Celtics, 114-102.

Damn, I hate the Celts. One more game here at home, Sunday at 3:30.