The Celtics missed an opportunity to take a commanding 3-1 Eastern Conference semifinals lead Sunday afternoon, following a 116-115 Game 4 overtime loss to the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center.
Boston failed to get a bucket in the final seconds of regulation and once again in OT as time expired, with the ball twice landing in the hands of Marcus Smart.
Smart's first attempt didn't connect, which led to the extra session, while the second time around he hit a 3-pointer -- but was a hair too late, giving the Sixers the win to even the series at two-games a piece.
However, could the C's final result have been different had Jaylen Brown taken one of those open looks?
In 44 minutes of action, Brown finished with 23 points on 10-of-17 from the field, including hitting 3-of-8 from behind the arc -- only second to Jayson Tatum's 24 points on 9-of-20 shooting. So one may ask; why didn't Boston's other All-Star have the ball more down the stretch?
While Tatum struggled on 1-of-9 from the floor in the first half, it was Brown's 12 points on 5-of-7 from the floor that kept the Celtics within single-digits at the break.
Still, as Tatum went a perfect 5-for-5 in the third quarter during Boston's 16-point comeback, Brown's touches became less and less as time went on.
"I guess I gotta demand the ball a little bit more," Brown said during his postgame presser. "I thought good things happened when I had it in my hands. But I thought our offense was OK. I thought we chipped away, we made big-time shots, we got great looks all game long and we just came up short in the end."
Brown only attempted three shots in the final frame, with the Celtics outscoring Philly 22-15, which included a 17-4 run -- to take their first lead of the game -- but the star wing didn't put up a single shot in the overtime period.
To make matters worse, with less than 30 seconds left in OT and Boston holding onto a 115-113 advantage, Brown opted to double Joel Embiid down in the paint along with Tatum -- leaving a wide open James Harden in the corner.
Instead of going up for a potential tying layup, Embiid made the decision to hit Harden with a pass, as the former league MVP guard hit the game's biggest 3-pointer to give him 42 points and the Sixers a lead for good.
"Just a bad read. That’s it," Brown said of the defensive lapse. "It's a gamble at the wrong time and big shot by James Harden. That's my fault. I took full accountability. Just a bad read."
Brown, who during this series was able to shut down Harden in Game 2 and 3 defensively, ran into foul trouble Sunday and never got into any kind of rhythm on both ends of the floor come the second half of Game 4. The Celtics will have to tighten things up in a pivotal Game 5 Tuesday night to take control in what's now a best-of-3.
"We all felt great about ourselves and we were able to chip at the lead slowly," Brown said. "Then we actually took the lead, had it and we had that game in our grasp. Rebounds, defensive breakdowns, there was a lot of things that went into why we didn't come out on top."
TNT has the tip-off tonight from TD Garden at 7:30 ET, as Boston looks to take 3-2 edge over the 76ers.
Photo used courtesy of USA Today
Photo used courtesy of USA Today