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The Boston Celtics stumbled down the stretch, failing to close out a game they were well-positioned to win. Conversely, the Philadelphia 76ers, also playing short-handed, stepped up in the final minutes to erase a seven-point deficit and snap a three-game losing streak. Along with examining what happened in the fourth quarter, here's what stood out from the Sixers' win over the Celtics.

Boston Gets a Boost off the Bench

Payton Pritchard finished Monday night's game with 14 points on six of nine shooting, knocked down two threes, grabbed three rebounds, dished out two assists, and swiped two steals. Beyond the stat sheet, Pritchard provided energy off the bench, and he effectively pushed the pace offensively while holding his own defensively. Pritchard's capitalizing on the opportunity he's received due to the Celtics playing short-handed, making a compelling case for more minutes even when Boston has its full rotation; granted, the team typically hasn't had that luxury.

Pritchard wasn't the lone player to make an impact off Boston's bench, though. Aaron Nesmith made the most of his twelve minutes, most notably by throwing down the tomahawk jam shown above on a fast break that ignited the crowd at TD Garden and gave the Celtics a jolt of energy.

There were also second-quarter blocks by Bruno Fernando and Romeo Langford that deserve mention. Both were the type of energy plays that become even more valuable when a team is short-handed, regardless of whether the same is true for the opponent.

Seth Curry Scorches Celtics from Inside the Arc

The Celtics did a good job minimizing Seth Curry's impact from behind the three-point line. The Sixers' sharpshooter didn't miss from long range, but Boston held him to three shots from beyond the arc. Unfortunately for the Celtics, Curry made them pay for running him off the three-point line, routinely knocking down shots off the dribble en route to 26 points on 10/14 shooting. Curry also had seven assists, four rebounds, and he registered a plus-minus rating of +14.

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Celtics Live with Enes Freedom Guarding Joel Embiid One-on-One

The Celtics tried double-teaming Joel Embiid to start the game, but it wasn't working, which prompted Ime Udoka to change tactics. Boston lived with Enes Freedom defending Embiid one-on-one for most of Monday's matchup. While that resulted in the Sixers' All-NBA center entering the final frame with a game-high 24 points, it was a strategy that didn't burn the Celtics until the fourth quarter.

Sixers Stepped Up Late, Celtics Wilted

The Celtics had a seven-point lead with 4:14 remaining, and while that's a lot of time left to play, they were well-positioned to close out the game. Instead, as the Sixers elevated their play, Boston wilted. From that point on, the Celtics committed four turnovers to the Sixers' one, shot 3/8 from the field, and missed two free throws. That's just what happened offensively.

Defensively, Boston gave up a costly rebound that led to Matisse Thybulle knocking down an open three to make it a four-point game with 3:40 remaining. And while the Celtics went cold and were coughing the ball up, Philadelphia sank 5/8 shots as Embiid carried them across the finish line. 

The All-NBA center feasted on one-on-one matchups against Enes Freedom. In the final 1:22, Embiid buried three-straight well-contested jump shots, including a 17-foot step-back jumper from the left baseline with Freedom and Marcus Smart defending him, putting the Sixers up by four with 12 seconds left to help them leave Boston with a win.

Up Next

The Celtics host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday, Dec 22. Tip-off is at 7:30 EST.