Keys to the Game: Celtics 114, 76ers 112

Marc D'Amico
Team Reporter and Analyst

jQuery(document).ready(function() { addByline("Marc D'Amico", "Celtics.com", "Marc_DAmico"); keysToTheGame('post'); });

Key Moment

Many crazy things happened during this Eastern Conference Semifinals series between the Celtics and the 76ers. That’s why the final possession of Game 5 – which was Desperation City for Philly – was nothing to blink at.

Marcus Smart missed one of his two free throws with 2.4 seconds left Wednesday night. That left the door open for Philadelphia to potentially steal a victory in shocking fashion at the final buzzer.

Boston led by only two points after Smart converted on his second free throw attempt. The 76ers did not have a timeout, and therefore, they needed to advance the length of the court for their buzzer-beating shot attempt.

Fortunately for the C’s, that shot never came into existence.

Ben Simmons took the ball out of bounds for Philadelphia from Boston’s end of the court . The Sixers ran a full-court inbound play that they likely practiced many times throughout the season, which called for Robert Covington and J.J. Redick crossing paths in the backcourt and fanning out to opposite corners of the frontcourt at Philadelphia’s end of the floor.

Simmons attempted to throw a three-quarters-court pass to Covington, but as his football pass came to the end of its arc, Marcus Smart leaped into the air and snagged it with his right hand. Smart then threw the ball high into the air, allowing the clock to run dry while forcing Boston’s spirits to soar high.

That was the final play of Philadelphia’s season. It was also the final play for Boston – at least for this series.

With Simmons’ fourth turnover, and with Smart’s first interception of the night, the Celtics moved on to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second time in as many seasons.

Key Player

Al Horford said of Aron Baynes after Game 5, “Tonight, he was great for us”

Nailed it.

Baynes finished Game 5 as Boston’s top rebounder with nine boards, and he also poured in a playoff career high of 13 points while helping to push the C’s into the Conference Finals. He shot 5-for-8 from the field and, yes, he added in a 3 that fired up the TD Garden crowd.

Speaking of 3s, Baynes made seven of them during this series. That’s four more than he made during the entire regular season. It’s also more than Philadelphia sharpshooters Robert Covington and Marco Belinelli tallied during the series, as they made six and five, respectively.

That isn’t surprising. That’s downright shocking.

Baynes’ ability to can the 3-pointer did wonders for Boston’s offense. It made Joel Embiid respect the shot, and, as such, it pulled Philadelphia’s feared rim protector out of the paint.

For good measure, let’s also toss in the fact that Baynes added an assist and a steal during his nearly 25 minutes of action Wednesday night, all while making life difficult for Embiid when the All-Star center had the ball in his hands.

It’s highly unlikely that the Celtics would have won Game 5 without Baynes, and they surely would not have won this series without him. He was not only great Wednesday night, he was great throughout the this five-game set.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Philadelphia scored 30 points during both the third and the fourth quarters.
  • Joel Embiid led the game in both points (27) and rebounds (13).
  • Embiid's frontcourt teammate, Dario Saric, logged the game's other double-double with his 27 points and 10 rebounds.
  • Jayson Tatum led Boston with 25 points. He made nine of his 11 free throws.
  • Jaylen Brown was right behind Brown with 24 points of his own.
  • The Celtics entered the game averaging nearly 29 3-point attempts per game during the series and attempted only 20 during Game 5.
  • The two teams combined to make only 15 3-pointers (eight by Philly, seven by Boston).
  • Aron Baynes led the Celtics with nine rebounds. He also scored 13 points.
  • Marcus Smart led all reserves with 14 points, and he attempted a game-high 13 free throws.
  • Smart, Ben Simmons and T.J. McConnell tied for the game high in assists with six apiece.
  • Boston committed only 11 turnovers.
  • Philadelphia actually made more field goals (40 to 38) and 3-pointers (eight to seven) than Boston, but the C's made seven more free throws (31 to 24).
  • Terry Rozier played a game-high 40:05 and logged 17 points.

Quote of the Night

Sixers head coach Brett Brown.