But in the end, it came down to the Celtics' ability to produce in the clutch - and Embiid's lack thereof.
To be fair, Embiid dominated for the balance of the game.
Embiid averaged 23.0 points, 14.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists during the five-game Eastern Conference semifinals series against Boston. He's going to be a force in this league, provided he stays healthy. "I wasn't just out there flowing and playing the way I play, which is free".
Embiid immediately took off his mask and exited the floor after the Celtics intercepted a last-second full-court pass to set up a potential game-tying three as time expired.
Smart knocked down a free throw (unintentionally) to give Boston a two-point lead over the Philadelphia 76ers with seconds remaining.
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Danny Ainge has been as impressed as anyone with his young players' clutch performances, even though he's the one that drafted them.
They're way better than anyone expected them to be at this stage of their careers.
"Certainly it's been fun and unexpected", Ainge said. The scary thing is: they're still blossoming. A third, Amir Johnson, played 15.8 minutes per game and was not part of the playoff rotation.
"For those guys to go out and contribute at such a level and find ways to win has been very impressive".
After winning just 23 percent of their games in the previous four seasons in an attempt to build through the National Basketball Association draft, the Sixers finished the regular season with 52 victories and won a playoff series for the first time since 2012.
Embiid's running mate, Simmons, weighed in after the disappointing loss and echoed a similar sentiment of his big man.