Celtics-Sixers takeaways: C's offense goes cold in critical Game 5 loss

Game 5 takeaways: C's offense goes cold in critical loss to Sixers originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Celtics' 2022-23 season will come down to a do-or-die Game 6 in Philadelphia.

The 76ers quieted the TD Garden crowd early in Tuesday night's crucial Game 5 and cruised to a 115-103 victory to take a 3-2 series lead. They led by as many as 21 points before the Celtics' reserves got hot from 3-point range in garbage time.

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Boston picked a poor time to have one of its worst shooting performances of the season as the team shot just 39.8 percent from the floor, including 12-for-38 (31.6 percent) from 3. The lackluster night, which puts the C's on the brink of elimination, prompted loud boos from the fans in attendance.

Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey led the Sixers with 33 and 30 points, respectively. James Harden (17 points) and Tobias Harris (16 points) also contributed to the Celtics' demise.

For the Celtics, Jayson Tatum did his part after another slow start with a game-high 36 points. Jaylen Brown chipped in 24 on 9-of-16 shooting.

The C's will fight to keep their season alive Thursday night at Wells Fargo Center. First, here are three takeaways from their critical Game 5 defeat.


Supporting cast goes silent

For the second consecutive game, Jayson Tatum bounced back from an uncharacteristically poor start (0-5 FG in the first quarter) to lead the C's in scoring and Jaylen Brown dropped 23+ points. But while Boston's stars shined, the supporting cast didn't hold up its end of the bargain.

Celtics players not named Tatum or Brown combined to shoot just 12-for-39 (30.7 percent) from the floor, including 6-for-21 (28.6 percent) from beyond the arc. Marcus Smart (14 points) was the only other Celtic to score in double figures.

Al Horford was a dismal 0-for-7 from 3 with zero points. The guard trio of Smart, Derrick White, and Malcolm Brogdon shot a combined 7-for-22 on field goals.


While some of the blame for the loss can be placed on Tatum's sluggish start, the four-time All-Star didn't get much help once he found his groove. He'll need to shake off the first-half jitters, and the C's depth will need to be on display, if they're to make a comeback in this series.

Free-throw fest

Both teams spent quite a bit of time at the charity stripe in this one, but it was the Sixers taking advantage.

Philly converted on 23 of its 27 free-throw attempts. Embiid was 10-of-11 from the line and Harden was 8-of-10.

Boston, on the other hand, missed nine of its free throws (25-for-34). Brown accounted for six of them, making only three of his eight shots from the stripe. Tatum and Smart missed two apiece.


The second quarter could have been a turning point for the C's as they were in the bonus for most of the frame. They got to the line for 18 free-throw attempts and converted 14 of them. That was enough to cut the deficit to nine at the half, but they simply couldn't capitalize and overcome their offensive struggles.


Malcolm Brogdon tabbed Game 5 as a "must-win" prior to the matchup. The Celtics couldn't get the job done, which means a literal "must-win" will take place Thursday in Philadelphia.

The odds aren't in Boston's favor. Teams that win Game 5 of a 2-2 best-of-seven series have gone on to win the series 82 percent of the time (187-41) in NBA history.

Fortunately for the C's, this isn't unfamiliar territory. They faced an identical situation in last year's Eastern Conference Semifinals vs. the Milwaukee Bucks, when they won Game 6 on the road (108-95) to tie the series at 3-3. They went on to win Game 7 in Boston.