With backs against wall, Sixers seek survival down 3-1

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By Josh Liddick, Sports Talk Philly editor 

Tip-off: 8:00 pm ❖ Location: Boston, MA ❖ TV: TNT ❖ Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic, 97.3 ESPN  

Game 4 was everything you could have asked for as a fan of the Philadelphia 76ers, who came from down 3-0 to the Boston Celtics and stayed alive on their home court.

Now, the Sixers head back on the road in Boston looking for some way to keep the series alive another day, which would shift the series back to Philadelphia on Friday night.

Obviously, the odds aren't even close to being in the Sixers' favor, as no team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in NBA history, but the way the Sixers played on Monday night showed that this team is ready for anything and are capable of the road to impossible.

It will be interesting to see how Boston game plans against Brett Brown's lineup in Game 5, after just being outcoached on Monday with lineup adjustments, such as starting T.J. McConnell over Robert Covington.

Since that game plan worked so well for the Sixers in the previous game, don't expect to see anything that's much different in Game 5.

Home Court is the Celtics' greatest advantage

We all know how great home court can be as an advantage in the playoffs. Some teams thrive at home in the postseason, while others struggle mightily anyway.

At least that's what the top-seeded Toronto Raptors experienced in the first two games of the semi-finals against the LeBron-led Cavs. 

But for the Celtics, playing at home has been a cakewalk in these playoffs so far. Boston is 6-0 at home so far in the playoffs, and are looking to make that seven straight home wins on Wednesday if it can get past the Sixers.

The Bucks were unable to overcome the vibe the TD Garden brought in seven games, and it looks like the Sixers are equally affected by it.

Of course, winning games at home can also bring a sort of momentum into the next game you play, as the Celtics felt after taking the first two games in Boston and then directly winning another game on the road in Philly in Game 3.

The Sixers hope the momentum and hype they brought in Game 4 will translate into success on Wednesday night, aiming to seriously extend the series to at least a sixth game.

T.J. is great, but Sixers need a complete team effort in Game 5

Nothing against T.J. McConnell, who provided the spark to get a game back on the Celtics in Game 4, but for long-term success, the Sixers need a complete team effort from all of their primary players to continue to be successful.

For the first time all series, the Sixers actually got a decent game out of Ben Simmons on Monday night, who rebounded the ball so well, that that part of the game didn't have to revolve around just Joel Embiid and occasionally Dario Saric in order to be successful.

The Sixers also turned the ball over a lot less than usual, only giving the ball up eight times, compared to the Celtics' 15 turnovers.

By now, we are all aware of just how good the Celtics' defense is. The regular season description of "The best defense in the NBA," isn't just a label, it's the truth.

But the Sixers' defense also played very well on Monday night forcing a lot of those sloppy turnovers and getting inside their heads.

McConnell held Terry Rozier to only 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting, completely taking away that part of the game. 

The Sixers also forced the Celtics to play aggressive, which ended up hurting them overall with 28 personal fouls including three technical fouls.

While it's just one game and thus a small sample size, the Sixers played a complete team brand of basketball on Monday night, which is exactly what we had expected going into this game in the first place.

Stevens praises Brown

Even if the Celtics do come out on their home floor on Wednesday night and eliminate the Sixers in five games, the coaching battle between Brett Brown and Brad Stevens has been fun to watch.

It's not difficult to see why these two coaches are two good candidates for Coach of the Year this season.

Brad Stevens told the media what he thought of Brown as a coach, and the kind of team he has coached this season in order to make the Sixers a winning basketball team once again.

"I think the part that is most difficult in this league is when you're not having success is maintaining a joy and desire to continue to work for yourself and your team," Stevens said. "I don't think anybody has done it better than Brett, and the way that he's led. You can see it in the way (the Sixers) play. You can see it in the way they played before this year.

"Obviously, with more guys available now, with Embiid and (Ben) Simmons healthy, and now all the older guys they've added, you can see the joy with which they play. Everybody quote "loves" basketball. That gets tested in an 82-game season, and if it's extended. And it really gets tested if you're not having success. That's hard. I have an unbelievable amount of admiration for Brett anyways, but the way in which he's created a culture in which they find joy is pretty special."

Game 5 Projected Lineup  |  May 9, 2018
Philadelphia 76ers

 BOS leads series 3-1 Boston Celtics

Projected Starters
Ben Simmons Point Guard Terry Rozier
T.J. McConnell Shooting Guard Marcus Smart
JJ Redick Small Forward Jayson Tatum
Dario Saric Power Forward Al Horford
Joel Embiid Center Aron Baynes
Injury Report
    Shane Larkin