Celtics’ Seek ‘Short-Term Memory’ After Game 5 Loss vs. Sixers

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NBA Analysis Network

The Boston Celtics could not have picked a worse time to fall flat. Back at home for Game 5 in their Eastern Conference semifinal against the Philadelphia 76ers, they had one of the least inspired performances of their NBA season.

The 76ers went into Boston and won 115-103, taking full advantage of what was an off night for the Celtics. That has put Philadelphia in a position to close their Atlantic Division rivals out tonight in Game 6 at home.

“We dropped the ball tonight,” Celtics guard Jaylen Brown said. “Couldn’t stay in front of anybody. Couldn’t get a stop when we needed to. Missed a lot of wide-open shots, gave everything up that they wanted us to give up. That was the story of the game. But got to have a short-term memory.”

Brown kept up his solid play, shooting 9-of-16 and 3-of-6 on 3-pointers en route to 24 points. He struggled mightily at the foul line, however, shooting 3-of-8. Had Jayson Tatum been able to shoot as efficiently from the field as Brown did, the game may have turned out differently.

NBA NEWS & PLAYOFFS: Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics & Philadelphia 76ers Updates

Tatum had a tough night, going 11-of-27 from the field and 3-of-11 from long range, as he shot the Celtics out of the game at some points. When your stars struggle, it will be tough to win games, especially when the best players on the opposing team are playing up to expectations.

“There’s nothing we can do about tonight,” Tatum said. “It happened. It’s unfortunate. We wish we could change it, but that’s not how life works. Can’t go back in time.”

Joel Embiid led the way with 33 points for Philadelphia, as Tyrese Maxey also chipped in 30. James Harden was more than happy being a facilitator in this one, scoring 17 points to go along with 10 assists.

Something feels different about this 76ers team, which the Celtics are finding out the hard way. They get the job done on both ends of the court, as their defensive performance was impressive. Boston managed to shoot only 39.8 percent overall and 31.8 percent on 3-pointers.

NBA NEWS & PLAYOFFS: Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics & Philadelphia 76ers Updates

Embiid was a force defensively, as Boston was 4-of-15 when contested by him. The zone defense that Doc Rivers employed also bothered the Celtics, as they shot 6-of-22 when facing it. That led to a playoff-low 103 points being scored.

“That was our first really, really bad game of the playoffs,” Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said. “It doesn’t come at necessarily the best time, but we just have to shift our perspective and we’ve got to get ready to play the next game.”

Mazzulla is going to have to figure out something to help get the Celtics going as they face elimination in Game 6. They didn’t seem to shake the overtime loss in Game 4, where they fell just seconds away from taking a commanding 3-1 series lead.

NBA NEWS & PLAYOFFS: Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics & Philadelphia 76ers Updates

Instead, they are now facing a 3-2 series deficit as they head back to the City of Brotherly Love. They have no one to blame but themselves as they have failed to take advantage of the opportunities presented to them. For example, in Game 1, the Celtics lost at home despite Embiid not being in the lineup and then essentially no-showed Game 5.

They now have their work cut out for themselves if they want to survive in the postseason and have any chance at advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics need to take things one game at a time and it starts on Thursday night in Philadelphia.

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