Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinal matchup between the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics turned on an “unexplainable errant pass” during a crucial play when the Celtics had the ball up by a point with 33 seconds left. The erroneous pass allowed Tyrese Maxey to score a free basket that helped change the outcome of the game. The 76ers defended the Celtics’ actions on the play, and it was Tyrese Maxey’s excellent defensive performance that enabled him to catch the odd shot for the winning point. The basket gave the 76ers home-court advantage in the series against the Celtics and Embiid huge comfort, as it gets his team a victory without him.
Maxey said the play felt surreal, and that he thought he heard a whistle just as he picked up the ball, causing him to almost stop running. Boston need to win game 2 of the series to avoid a 2-0 hole; the 76ers are hoping Embiid will continue to improve after a platelet-rich plasma treatment on his right knee. Knowing that they will go back to Philadelphia for Game 3 with no worse than a split offers an opportunity to decide properly on whether to play Embiid in Game 2, considering his injury status and importance to the team. James Harden’s performance was significant- his 45-point score helped lead the 76ers to a 119-115 Game 1 victory over the Celtics.
Overall, the play was incredibly unusual- the ball was caught in the smallest windows, and the referees let the play continue as if there were no violation. Everyone was still for a while, as they could not comprehend the moves that Maxey made; some fans even thought that the play did not count. The miscommunication and Maxey’s fortunate running made for a “strange” play; however, the quiet court and the fans’ subdued emotions towards the situation are the most unusual factor.