NBA Game Preview - Boston at Philadelphia
Sun Aug 23, 2020 1:00 PM EDT

Celtics look to complete sweep vs. Sixers
Sun Aug 23, 2020 11:05 AM

The Boston Celtics will seek to complete a playoff-series sweep of the rival Philadelphia 76ers franchise for the first time in 63 years when the Eastern Conference clubs contest Game 4 of their best-of-seven on Sunday afternoon at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando.

The third-seeded Celtics scored the game's final 10 points and tightened the defensive screws on Joel Embiid down the stretch to overcome a late deficit en route to Friday's 102-94 win.

The victory put Boston up 3-0 in the series and gave it a chance to sweep the 76ers for the first time since they played as the Syracuse Nationals in a 1957 Eastern Finals that featured Bob Cousy and Dolph Schayes.

The franchises are meeting for the 21st time in the postseason.

Embiid has played the role of Wilt Chamberlain in his many postseason frustrations against the Bill Russell-led Celtics, unable to single-handedly slay a deeper Boston squad.

Embiid, who gave the sixth-seeded 76ers their last lead of Game 3 at 94-92 on two free throws with 2:14 remaining, was subsequently hounded into two critical mistakes with the game on the line.

With the 76ers having a chance to add to their lead, he attempted a cross-court pass out of a double-team, a ball that was intercepted by Marcus Smart and turned into a three-point play by Jaylen Brown at the other end for a 95-94 advantage the Celtics never relinquished.

Then, on the next possession with a chance to put the 76ers back on top, Embiid took matters into his own hands despite heavy Celtics pressure and had his off-balance jumper blocked by Jayson Tatum.

Josh Richardson then fouled Tatum in the open court, resulting in a clear-path infraction and two free throws. He made one, and when Kemba Walker buried a 20-footer with 1:05 left on the Celtics' ensuing possession, Boston was up four and headed to a commanding series lead.

Embiid took full responsibility for the two miscues and, surprisingly, his coach, Brett Brown, didn't disagree.

"There's the game," Brown declared afterward. "I don't think you can minimize that or say it any other way."

In the end, Celtics coach Brad Stevens gave credit to Smart for being in the right place at the right time when three Boston defenders were left to guard four 76ers as Embiid was being double-teamed on the first game-changing possession.

"He just made a lot of winning plays," Stevens gushed after the win. "He still hasn't seen the ball go through the net like he's used to, but it doesn't even affect him. The guy's all about one thing and that's winning. He was great again tonight."

Embiid finished with a game-high 30 points. He leads the series in both scoring (30.0 per game) and rebounding (13.0).

No doubt, he's been the MVP of the series in the first halves, during which he's averaged 19.0 points on 59.4-percent shooting while also finding time for 8.7 rebounds.

But the second halves have been a different story, with the Celtics harassing him into 29.2-percent shooting, limiting him to 11.0 points a night. Even his rebound average (4.3) has been way down over the final 24 minutes.

--Field Level Media

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