BOSTON - The Sixers had Game 2. Well, it started off that way.
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The Sixers blew a 22-point lead to fall, 108-103, to the Celtics in a critical matchup. The Celtics are 36-0 when leading a series 2-0.
Now the Sixers have to fight an uphill battle when they return to the Wells Fargo Center for Games 3 and 4 on Saturday and Monday.
• Roles were reversed at the beginning of the game. The Sixers looked in control like the Celtics were in Game 1, while the Celtics were totally out of sync like the Sixers had been. But when the Celtics began to slowly chip away at the Sixers' 22-point edge, they kept going … and going … and going while the Sixers' defense failed to halt them. The momentum had shifted by halftime as the Celtics outscored the Sixers 21-5 going into the break.
Brett Brown stood by his decision to not use a timeout during the Celtics' run, noting his confidence in his players to hold on to the lead and the importance to have timeouts available down the stretch.
"Would a timeout have fixed it? I don't think so," Brown said after the game. "We can maybe second-guess that. But by in large, it's going into the game and trying to make sure you have enough at the end of the game also to manage it. You knew it was going to be a close game. The notion that we were going to maintain a 20-point lead and walk out of the Boston Garden wasn't on my mind. That wasn't on my mind. I felt like we did to them, they were going to do to us. Runs were going to be had."
• The Celtics' confidence was apparent in the second half. In spite of seven lead changes and five ties on the night, the Celtics fended off multiple Sixers' comeback attempts.
"It is a long game," JJ Redick said. "It is a game of runs. We were playing really well and had a big lead but there was still 31 minutes left to play or whatever it was when we were up by 20. I think they hurt us in transition tonight. They are not really a running team necessarily, they played a little faster when they could and they got out in transitions and converted. But, otherwise, just a hard-fought basketball game."
• Ben Simmons had an off night, to say the least. He scored just one point (0 for 4 from the field) with five rebounds, seven assists and five turnovers in 31 minutes.
Brown showed his confidence in T.J. McConnell during Simmons' struggles. McConnell subbed in for Simmons to play the final 3:39 of the third quarter. He stayed on the court until just over five minutes remaining, posting four points, three assists and a rebound, including feeding Robert Covington for a go-ahead three off an offensive board.
• Jaylen Brown returned from missing the series opener because of a hamstring injury to boost the Celtics' depth. The guard wasn't cleared until close to game time and quickly got back into rhythm with athletic plays, including getting up for dunks. Brown scored 13 points in 25 minutes off the bench.
• The Sixers needed their shooters to get hot after a poor three-point shooting performance in Game 1. Redick dropped 13 points in the first quarter alone and scored a game-high 23 points off 5 for 9 three-point shooting. Covington was right behind him with 22 points (4 for 7 from three). The Sixers improved to 13 for 33 (39.4 percent) from long range, but the Celtics topped them at 15 for 36 (41.7 percent).
• Joel Embiid recorded another double-double: 20 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and a block. There's no question Embiid can run up the scoreboard in the playoffs, but beating the Celtics will have to be a total team effort.