Final: Sixers 118, Celtics 115 — Shorthanded Celtics fall short in crunch time

(Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Jimmy Butler hit a dagger with four seconds remaining, capping off a 13-5 Sixers run during crunch time as the hosts finally pulled off a 118-115 win over a shorthanded Celtics squad. Joel Embiid made a career-high 20 free throws, as the Sixers fought their way back from a 15-point deficit in large part thanks to a 43-16 edge at the free throw line. Embiid was a monster all night (37 points, 22 rebounds) and also provoked Marcus Smart into a third quarter ejection with a screen that Smart responded to with a double-handed shove. Smart was ejected and with Aron Baynes also sidelined with a sprained ankle, the Celtics were down three key rotation players in the second half.

Kyrie Irving led the Celtics with 36 points and 9 rebounds but struggled down the stretch on both ends of the floor, while Al Horford added 22 points. Terry Rozier played his best game in weeks (20 points off the bench) but it wasn't enough for Boston, which falls four full games back of the Sixers with 10 games to play in the race for the No. 3 seed.

Smart ejected

    • Marcus Smart starts off the second half with a bang, responding to an (arguably) cheap pick by Joel Embiid with a two-handed shove to his back. Both guys were separated and Smart was handed a flagrant 2, which results in an automatic ejection. With Baynes already ruled out with a sprained left ankle for the game, C's down to six of their top nine players.

First Half Notes