Celtics blow lead, collapse in Philadelphia, 92-83

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Celtics blow lead, collapse in Philadelphia, 92-83

PHILADELPHIA Fast starts, a futile finish.

It has been that way throughout this Boston-Philadelphia playoff series, and Game 4 was no exception.

After a red-hot start by Boston, the Celtics could not overcome a foul-plagued game that ended with a disappointing 92-83 loss.

The series is now tied at 2-2, with Game 5 in Boston on Monday, and Game 6 in Philadelphia on Wednesday.

Philadelphia's Andre Iguodala drilled a 3-pointer with 36.9 seconds to play that put the Sixers ahead 88-83, and all but sealed the victory.

Boston immediately called a time-out, well aware that the odds of them pulling out a win at that point were slim, at best.

Out of the time-out, Ray Allen took a rushed 3-pointer that hit nothing but the outstretched arms of a Sixers big man waiting for the air ball to land in his hands.

Jodie Meeks went to the free throw line and made a pair with 32.2 seconds to play, making the game's outcome a mere formality.

Several factors contributed to the C's loss, but none loom as large as the high number of fouls that the C's were whistled for, with official Bill Kennedy making a number of those calls.

For the game, the Celtics were called for 28 personal fouls compared to 19 for the Sixers. That contributed to Philadelphia taking 36 free throw attempts compared to 19 for the C's.

The Sixers fell behind by as many as 18 points, but rallied to tie the game at 63 with more than 10 minutes to play following a driving lay-up by Thaddeus Young.

From there, it became a game that like the first two, was going to come down to which team did a better job of executing in the game's closing minutes.

Boston went up 79-76 following a pair of free throws from Kevin Garnett, only for Iguodala to hit a game-tying 3-pointer.

His basket was soon followed by a jumper from Rajon Rondo which gave the Celtics an 81-79 lead with 2:49 to play.

For most of the night, the Celtics seemed well on their way to a similar blowout akin to their 16-point Game 3 win on Wednesday night.

Boston pushed its lead up to 18 in the third quarter, but foul trouble was starting to become an issue for the C's as the Sixers continued to make a killin' from the free throw line.

After a free throw by Avery Bradley put the Celtics ahead 49-31, Philadelphia countered with an 8-1 spurt with half of their points coming from the free throw line.

Philadelphia's run and Boston's offensive rut seemingly had no end in sight until Paul Pierce snapped an 0-for-the-quarter shooting slump by the Celtics with a 3-pointer that pushed Boston's lead to 54-46 at the 5:05 mark.

The Celtics had missed their previous nine shot attempts in the quarter.

HOT SHOT: Andre Iguodala came up with one big shot after another for the Sixers, with none bigger than the 3-pointer he hit with 36 seconds to play that put the Sixers ahead by five points. He finished with 16 points on 5-for-12 shooting, along with seven rebounds and four assists.

IN-N-OUT: Kevin Garnett was about as big a non-factor as we've seen him all season. He finished with just nine points on 3-for-12 shooting from the field, along with 11 rebounds and a whopping seven turnovers.

SUPER SUB: Thaddeus Young continues to provide the kind of impact off the bench that has given the Celtics major fits throughout this series. He had 12 points on 4-for-8 shooting, along with nine rebounds and three assists.

TURNING POINT: With the Sixers ahead 85-83, Rajon Rondo missed a driving lay-up attempt that was blocked by Young. Moments later, Iguodala hit a 3-pointer that put the C's on their heels and they were never able to bounce back.

QUOTE OF NOTE: "We lost our composure. We never returned to playing basketball like we did in the first half." - Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

Horford believes Celtics give him best chance at 'ultimate goal' of NBA Championship

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Horford believes Celtics give him best chance at 'ultimate goal' of NBA Championship

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Pinpointing the exact moment Al Horford made up his mind to become a Boston Celtics isn’t clear, but the seeds of that decision can be traced back to last year’s playoffs – and no we’re not talking about the playoff series between Boston and Atlanta, either.
 
It was the Hawk’s second-round playoff series back in May against Cleveland, a team that swept them out of the Conference finals in 2015 and did so again last about five months ago.
 
Horford had every intention of returning to Atlanta, but as the free agency period wore on two things became quite clear: Winning an NBA title would have to go through Cleveland and it happening with him in Atlanta was becoming more and more unlikely.
 
In came the Celtics with a pitch that was heavy on present-day and down-the-road potential that wouldn’t require him to do anything other than continue to play the way he has for the past nine seasons.
 
“It (becoming a Celtic) became real for me real late and real quick,” Horford told CSNNE.com on Wednesday.
 
After mulling it over for a couple days, Horford said he was ready to become a Celtic.
 
“This could be a great opportunity even though I’m leaving a lot behind,” Horford said.
 
As you listen to Horford speak, it’s clear that the Celtics mystique played a role in his decision to sign with Boston.

 But as much as the Celtics’ lore and its on-the-rise status helped, there were certain events that Boston had no control over that actually helped their cause.
 
First the Hawks got in on a three-team trade in June with Utah and Indiana which sent Hawks All-Star point guard Jeff Teague to the Pacers while Atlanta received Utah’s first-round pick which was 12th overall and was used by Atlanta to select Baylor’s Taurean Prince. The move allowed Atlanta’s Dennis Schroeder to slide over into the now-vacant starting point guard position.
 
While it may help Atlanta down the road, it did little to move them closer towards knocking off Cleveland anytime soon.
 
And then there was the Hawks coming to terms on a three-year, $70.5 million deal with Dwight Howard early in the free agency period. That deal coupled with Atlanta’s desire to bring Kent Bazemore back, cast serious doubt as to whether Horford would return.
 
Horford, who inked a four-year, $113 million deal with Boston, told CSNNE.com that at the time of Atlanta’s deal with Howard, he was still open to the idea of returning.
 
But if Horford did, he knew figuring out the best way to play him, Howard and Paul Millsap who by the way has a player option that he’s likely to exercise which would make him a free agent next summer, was not going to be easy.

“It was definitely going to be different,” Horford said, then adding, “For me, the Celtics were becoming more and more a realistic option. After talking with my family, we felt this was the best for me.”
 
And while it’s still very early in his tenure as a Celtic, Horford has no regrets or second thoughts about his decision.
 
“As a player you always want to be in the best position you can,” Horford said. “I felt for me being on this team would put me in a position to be able to contend and win an NBA championship. That’s my ultimate goal.”
 
And that alone makes him a good fit with this franchise which from ownership to the front office to the coaching staff and of course the players, are all focused on one thing and that’s bringing home Banner 18.
 
 “Look at the resume. He’s been a winner wherever he’s played,” said Boston’s Amir Johnson. “It’s good to have a guy like that, with his talent and with his winning, playing next to you.”