For the second straight game, a non-call on a 50-50 play played a role in the Boston Celtics suffering a loss.
Thursday’s came with 25.7 seconds left in the game, after Joel Embiid connected on two free throws to give Philadelphia a 112-109 lead. Boston opted not to call for a timeout and to inbound the ball from the far baseline.
After the 76ers denied the ball from Kemba Walker for a couple of seconds on the inbound play, Jaylen Brown streaked toward the free-throw line from the sideline near midcourt. He wasn’t quite able to free himself from his defender, Josh Richardson, but Richardson seemingly contacted Brown from behind for the final five to 10 feet of Brown’s sprint. That contact led to Brown falling to the floor while Jayson Tatum attempted to inbound the ball to him.
The attempted pass bounced out of bounds without making contact with any player, and no foul was called on Richardson.
Boston was then forced to foul Embiid on the ensuing inbound pass and Embiid cashed in on one of the two free throws to make it a two-possession game. The Celtics did not score the rest of the way.
This non-call came one night after another non-call bit the Celtics. During Boston’s 122-117 loss Wednesday night to the Pacers, Brad Wanamaker made a shot in the paint through contact with 18 seconds left to bring the C’s within one point. There was certainly contact on the play, but the referees did not blow the whistle, preventing Wanamaker from attempting a potential game-tying free throw. Boston was never able to tie the game from there on out before suffering a five-point loss.
Neither of these losses can be pinned directly onto the shoulders of the referees, as the Celtics had 47 other minutes of basketball to make the necessary plays to grab a win. However, each non-call, including Thursday’s on the critical inbound play, undoubtedly hindered Boston’s chances to grab victories.
Enes Kanter had something to say Thursday night to those who think he cannot compete head-to-head with Joel Embiid.
Kanter was by far the best reserve in the game while logging 20 points and a team-best nine rebounds during 24-plus minutes of action. Kanter shot an impressive 10-for-13 from the field during the game.
Most of his points were scored in the paint, including multiple buckets that came off of offensive rebounds. Kanter grabbed three offensive boards that contributed to Boston’s 17 second-chance points.
Kanter and Embiid scored and rebounded at very similar rates. Kanter scored 0.83 points per minute while he was on the court, while Embiid scored 1.05 points per minute. Kanter grabbed 0.375 rebounds per minute, while Embiid grabbed 0.361 rebounds per minute.
We must also mention that Kanter made multiple high-level defensive plays against the league’s most dominant low-post threat while the two players were matched up. He tallied two blocks and two steals, which each tied for the game's high total.
Kanter deserves a lot of credit for this performance – particularly from those who had declared that he is incapable of competing head-to-head with Embiid.
Box Score Nuggets
- Enes Kanter's 20 points off the bench surpassed the scoring total from all of Philadelphia's reserves (18 points).
- Joel Embiid totaled game highs of 38 points and 13 rebounds.
- Ben Simmons nearly committed as many turnovers (five) as Boston's entire team (six).
- Five Celtics scored between 15 and 29 points, led by Kemba Walker's 29.
- Walker shot 8-for-10 from the free-throw line, accounting for eight of Boston's 14 makes from the stripe.
- Tobias Harris scored 23 points for Philadelphia.
- Kanter (plus-three) and Walker (plus-two) were the only Celtics who finished with positive plus/minus ratings.
- Boston outscored Philly in the paint by a count of 48-44.
- Gordon Hayward totaled 19 points, five assists, four rebounds, one steal and one block.
- Neither team led by double-digits during the contest.
- Kanter also tied for the game high in blocks (two) and steals (two).
- Daniel Theis tallied 16 points and five rebounds.
Quote of the Night
Defensively we just gave up too many layups ... we weren’t good enough at the rim probably.
Brad Stevens on his team's performance