Holy Shot Clock, Batman! Sixers Win It by One!

In overtime. The refs reviewed it, but the crowd knew right away. Back to Boston we go!

sixers celtics game 4

James Harden vs. Marcus Smart. The Sixers beat the Celtics in a stunning Game 4 overtime. / Photograph by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

There were an awful lot of “James Harden has turned into Ben Simmons” comments flying around after Friday night’s messy 114-102 loss at home. And an awful lot of worry, too, about Joel’s injury. Doc assured everyone before today’s game that Embiid was fine, which of course made everybody worry still more.

The first quarter of the game was intensely physical, with a body block by Tucker on Jayson Tatum, among other things. The Celts missed eight straight field goals before Derrick White finally hit one with three minutes left. Harden worked his way past Robert Williams for a change for a layup.

“Good aggressive move,” Doris said approvingly. Embiid had 12 points and five rebounds at the close: 27-19 Sixers. Jayson Tatum was scoreless. Could they keep it up?

Maybe. Embiid came off, but Harden came alive, hitting a long three and a short jumper, then blocking Malcolm Brogdon at the basket.

Jaylen Brown fouled Tobias right out of his shoe. Melton made a great steal but blew the layup. Tatum was 0-8 — the most consecutive misses for him in a playoff game ever, Doris said. Maxey hit a miles-long three to cap a 7-0 Sixers run. At the half: 59-50 Sixers. Harden had 21; Embiid had 19.

Tatum got busy early in the third, though, scoring two quick baskets. Halfway through the quarter, Harden had 29 points? But the Celtics kept chipping away, cutting what was a 19-point lead back to 10 with three minutes left. Bang-Bang Niang hit his third three for the day, and Harris nailed one to put the Sixers up 15 again. Tatum, who’d started 0-8, was five for his last five. Niang with a dumb foul, Maxey with a great take: 92-83 at the close.

The Sixers racked up two quick fouls at the start of the fourth. Harden was back in; Embiid was out. Niang missed a three completely; why was he still in? With the lead down to seven, Doc called a time-out. Still no Embiid. Wait—now he was in. All over Philly, fans were getting frantic. Harden got hit with a shot-clock violation, leading to a three by Brown; two-point game. Oh bloody hell: tie game, on an 8-0 Celtics run. Then, on a Horford block of Embiid and solid jam, they took their first lead since it was 19-17 in the first. Harden tied it up on free throws with 3:15 to go.

Horford blocked Embiid, and Smart hit a three: up by four. Then by five with two minutes to go. The home crowd was very quiet. Was anybody gonna step up? P.J. got a rebound on a Harris miss, put it up, made it, and got fouled. For the tie: yes! And then a Tucker foul at the other half sent Marcus Smart to the line. The basketball gods: They giveth, and they taketh away. Celtics by two. A replay to check on the shot clock after Horford blocked Embiid again: Did it hit the rim? Yes, it did. And Harden tied it with 15 seconds to go. Smart missed the final shot, by a ton: overtime.

Nobody scored for a minute and a half, until Smart hit a layup and was fouled by Harden. Everybody looked out of whack. Embiid hit a tough double-teamed two. Harden picked Boston’s pocket at the two-minute mark; Embiid made a layup but got called for a charge on Smart. Doc challenged the offensive-foul call, leading to a long review, but the call stood. The fans were pissed. It was pretty clear that Smart’s left foot was still moving when Joel hit him. Fuck this game. Harden missed a three, but Horford fouled Joel under the basket going for the rebound. One minute to go, one-point Boston lead. Joel tied it, then put the Sixers up one.

And Tatum hit a three. The crowd and everyone else thought it was a push-off foul, but the ref disagreed. Sixers ball out of bounds. And Harden drained a three.

Unbelievable. Smart hit a three, but was the clock expired? YES! IT WAS! Sixers win, 116-115.