The NBA playoffs are always filled with drama, excitement, and tension, but Game 6 of the 2023 Eastern Conference semifinals between the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers took it to a whole new level. The Celtics managed to survive and advance to the Conference Finals, but not without being driven by terror.
From the opening tip, it was clear that both teams were playing with a sense of urgency. The Celtics had a 3-2 series lead, but the 76ers were playing at home and were determined to force a Game 7. The first quarter was a back-and-forth affair, with neither team able to gain a significant advantage.
However, things took a terrifying turn in the second quarter. With just over nine minutes left in the period, Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving drove to the basket and collided with 76ers center Joel Embiid. Both players went down hard, and Irving immediately grabbed his knee in pain.
The entire arena fell silent as trainers rushed to check on Irving. Celtics fans held their breath as they waited for any news on their star player. After a few tense minutes, Irving was helped to his feet and limped off the court.
The Celtics were shaken by the injury to Irving, and the 76ers took advantage. They went on a 10-2 run to take a 10-point lead, and the Celtics looked to be on the ropes. But then something strange happened.
As the 76ers were inbounding the ball, a fan ran onto the court and started chasing after Embiid. Security quickly tackled the fan, but the damage had been done. Embiid was visibly shaken by the incident, and the 76ers lost their momentum.
The seized the opportunity and went on a run of their own. Led by Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart, they cut the 76ers’ lead to just two points at halftime. The Celtics had survived the second quarter despite being driven by terror.
The rest of the game was a seesaw battle, with both teams trading baskets and making big plays. With just under a minute left in the game, the 76ers had a chance to take the lead, but Embiid missed a layup. The Celtics grabbed the rebound and called a timeout.
Celtics turned to Tatum to make a play
With Irving out, the turned to Tatum to make a play. He drove to the basket and drew a foul, sending him to the free-throw line with a chance to give the Celtics a three-point lead. Tatum calmly sank both free throws, and the Celtics led by three with just 10 seconds left in the game.
The 76ers had one last chance to tie the game, but their desperation three-pointer missed the mark. The Celtics grabbed the rebound and ran out the clock, securing a 98-95 win and a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals.
After the game, Celtics coach Brad Stevens praised his team’s resilience in the face of adversity. “We knew it wasn’t going to be easy without Kyrie, but we never gave up,” he said. “Our guys showed a lot of heart and determination tonight.”
The Celtics will face the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals, and they’ll need that same heart and determination if they hope to advance to the NBA Finals. But for one night, they survived being driven by terror and lived to fight another day.