On March 20th, 2019, the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Boston Celtics by a final score of 118-115, a win that relieved the fan base as a whole. The game was everything a basketball fan could ever wish for: intense, high scoring, and aggressive. The win was not only important to the Sixers’ spot in the East, but it also was a huge morale boost, as Boston has given Philadelphia nightmares since their postseason series last season.
The Celtics, particularly Kyrie Irving, came out ready to play, with the momentum favoring the team in green early. The Sixers had a bit of trouble finding a rhythm in the first quarter, and Boston held a 39-30 lead at the end of the first. It wasn’t necessarily a bad twelve minutes to start, but it wasn’t the ideal start that Brett Brown was looking for.
The second quarter, again, mostly belonged to Boston. Terry Rozier had a nice stretch of his own, sinking 3 three-pointers in a row to put the visitors on top by as much as 15 points. After one half gone, the Celtics had already scored 69 points (to the Sixers’ 58), and had shown the audience who was the better team.
The second half began with a questionable foul on Marcus Smart, after he attempted to swipe the ball from Joel Embiid. The next possession, Embiid stuck out his elbow for Smart, causing him to hit the hardwood. After what appeared to be a few words exchanged, JoJo turned around and was met with a shove from the infuriated Smart. Embiid was given a technical foul, and Smart was tossed from the game shortly after. This scuffle shifted the momentum to Philadelphia’s side, and they quickly took advantage, cutting the lead to three with 5:47 to go in the 3rd. By the end of the 3rd quarter, the Celtics still held on to a five point lead, but the Sixers proved they weren’t going to give up.
The fourth quarter looked to be going Boston’s way as they went up by eight points with just over 8 minutes left, and they had just broken the century mark. But Jimmy Butler III had other plans. After the Celtics had extended their lead to six points after a pair of Kyrie Irving free throws, Butler hit two gigantic triples to tie the game, and a two free throws to bring the game within one. And, as most of you know, he hit the game-sealing jump shot in the waning moments of the game, with an iconic snapshot accompanying the winner.
This may have seemed like an ordinary regular season win for the 76ers, but in reality, it was a whole lot more than that.
This win distances Boston and Philadelphia further away from each other in the Eastern Conference, and it makes the Celtics’ road to first round home-court advantage that much more difficult. The Celtics have also given the Sixers fits since their playoff series last season, and were a win away from sweeping the season series. After a huge road win against the first place Milwaukee Bucks, snatching a win from a struggling Boston team not only boosts the Sixers’ morale, but it diminishes the Celtics’ morale.
As the playoff race heats up and the postseason approaches, this game has a lot of impact on the outlook and standings of the Eastern Conference, and gives the Sixers the confidence they need as they prep for what expects to be a heated fight to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Featured Image: Bill Streicher – USA Today
My name is Matthew Dwyer, I am a junior in high school in Drexel Hill, PA. I have been an avid Philadelphia sports fan since I was a toddler, and have dreamt of a chance in sports journalism. In my free time, I enjoy playing drums, listening to music, playing video games, spending time with family and friends, and watching/play sports.