Celtics let Sixers steal game that was all but theirs

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Celtics let Sixers steal game that was all but theirs

PHILADELPHIA It all seemed so easy - too easy, actually.

Boston raced out to a double digit lead, saw its control of the game max out at 18 points in the third quarter and then nothing.

As dominate as the C's were in the first half, they were equal parts dormant and dumbfounded in the second which led to a hard-to-stomach 92-83 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

At least the C's continue their season-long trend of making things much harder than they need to be.

Had they won on Friday night, the Celtics would have had a vice-like grip on the series, and an extra day off to prepare for what should have been a close-out game, at home, on Monday.

Instead, the series is now knotted at 2-2, and once again the Celtics did just enough things wrong to give the Sixers another boost of confidence.

For Philadelphia, they now have hope - legit hope - that they can do more than just make this series interesting they can win it.

"Once they picked up their intensity, I don't think we played with a sense of urgency," said Celtics forward Paul Pierce. "When you have a team on its back, you're up 15, you can take their confidence and we didn't do that. When you give a team life, they're going to run and it carried into the third and fourth quarter."

At this point in the season, regardless of how the game was being officiated - Boston was whistled for 28 personal fouls compared to 18 for Philadelphia - there's no excuse for not having a heightened sense of urgency.

And when you consider all that the C's had to gain with a win and how they played in the first half, it becomes yet another one of those inexplicable head-scratching games that the Celtics have provided at various points this season.

"Now we've got a chance for Game 5 with an even series, now 2-2, and we'll see where we can go from here," said Sixers coach Doug Collins.

For Boston, there's only one place to go from here - back home and get a victory.

The C's spoke in measured, level-headed tones following Friday night's loss, but just below the surface is an angry team that's well aware that they let a perfectly good opportunity to take a commanding lead in the series get away from them.

But their anger wasn't directed at the Sixers, or their fans, or officials Bill Kennedy, Scott Foster and Bill Spooner.

They were upset with themselves.

Because this loss, like most of their losses, had more to do with them not doing what they do consistently, than it had to do with the other team playing a great game.

"It's frustrating," Kevin Garnett acknowledged. "We had a team down and we didn't finish them off. That's pretty disappointing. So we gotta go back home .. and get ready for the next game."

Part of that preparation involves moving past Game 4, a game that the Celtics know was one in which they let the Sixers off the hook.

"We're a strong-minded team," said C's guard Rajon Rondo. "We're a veteran team, and we know we kind of let this one slip away. They felt like they let a couple slip away early. Regardless of how each team feels, you still have to go out there and play the game. So, we'll be ready come Game 5."

Crowder on Wizards' all-black 'funeral' plans for Celtics: 'That's cute!'

Crowder on Wizards' all-black 'funeral' plans for Celtics: 'That's cute!'

The Washington Wizards plan to roll into tonight’s game against the Celtics donning all-black clothes, as in a funeral procession, a sign of solidarity and an omen of sorts for a game that they hope ends with them burying the Celtics.
 
When Jae Crowder was asked about the Wizards all-black gear, his initial response...“That’s cute!”
 
More than anything, the Wizards (24-20) are putting a significant amount of value into tonight’s game. A victory would extend their home winning streak to 14.

Meanwhile, the Celtics (26-17) come in looking to snap a two-game losing streak.
 
“This is definitely not Game 7 or the playoffs,” said Isaiah Thomas. “But if they want to take it that serious, they can.”
 
The idea to arrive at the Verizon Center donning all-black was hatched by Bradley Beal, who has some contentious moments, to say the least, with the Celtics recently.
 
Celtics coach Brad Stevens knows all about the funeral talk which to him is just that, talk. He’s more concerned with his team doing what they need to do in order to win.
 
Nothing more.
 
Nothing less.
 
“At the end of the day, good basketball teams are physical,” he said. “There’s a line you don’t want to cross. Ultimately, you have to be appropriately physical at a high level. It’s about playing well, focus on your next task at hand. This is a great opportunity to see where we’re at.”

In the Celtics' 117-108 win over the Wizards on Jan. 11, Beal was whistled for a flagrant-1 foul after getting into it with Marcus Smart.
 
Last season, Beal was on the receiving end of a left forearm to the face from Smart, who was driving to the basket at the time. The blow resulted in a broken nose for Beal in addition to spending time in the league’s concussion protocol program.
 
And then there’s his backcourt mate John Wall.
 
He was fined $15,000 for his role in a postgame incident with Jae Crowder (who was fined $25,000). Crowder pushed Wall’s nose with his finger, which led to Wall retaliating with a slap towards Crowder’s face.
 
And when the two met back on Nov. 9, Wall was hit with a flagrant-2 foul (an automatic ejection) when he threw Smart down hard to floor in the final moments of a Wizards win.
 
The Celtics have a few games that have become more physical than others recently, but there’s something about this Celtics-Wizards matchup that brings out an elevated level of feistiness.
 
“It’s just all talk; that’s all it is,” Thomas said. “I guess they taking it and running with it. I don’t know what it is. I [saw] the funeral and the all-black thing last night and I just laughed about it. We’ll be there tonight for a game, not a funeral.”
 

WATCH: Celtics vs. Wizards

WATCH: Celtics vs. Wizards

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