While the referees allowed the contact, and Tatum converted the shot attempt, it would appear that Doc Rivers was furious over a perceived missed call, even going as far as to criticize the decision during his post-game press conference. However, Rivers’ comments were not well-received by Celtics fans, who took to Twitter to share their displeasure.
“Are you serious?? Harden pushes off with his off arm every drive to create space! If they’re not calling all of them, then I’m happy calling none. Doc needs to go home,” Twitter user @Cmerc5 replied.
“This man coaches the two biggest foul merchants of this generation and wants to complain about refs,” @KryntNBA wrote.
“Are you gonna cry about the stuff that Embiid and harden do,” @RipKoreem_ replied.
A lot of the discourse surrounding Rivers comments was because the Sixers had won the game, courtesy of a poorly-timed final play from the Celtics which saw their potential game winning shot being released after the final buzzer had sounded.
What Did Doc Rivers Say?
As he addressed the media, Doc Rivers made it clear that his issue with Tatum’s perceived push-off was that it could have potentially cost the Sixers the game, had James Harden not have hit a dagger three-point shot to force overtime.
“Jayson Tatum’s three, was awful that wasn’t called, awful,” Rivers said. “It was a push off. And the reason that it bugged me, was at the end of the game, there was these touch fouls. Jayson Tatum has a 360 foul. Marcus Smart gets tangled up, touch foul. So, if we’re gonna call it that way, then you have to call that. To me, you gotta call that play. I know it’s a big play, and I’m a big fan of refs no deciding [the game], but that could have decided the game.”
However, earlier in the contest, there had been a similar possession from James Harden, where he used his off-hand to dislodge a defender before sinking his perimeter shot – a possession that was almost identitical to the one Rivers took issue with that involved Tatum.
Al Horford Encouraged at Celtics Fight
After trailing for almost the entire game, the Boston Celtics upped their defensive intensity in the fourth quarter, earning multiple stops at the rim and erasing their deficit down the stretch.
“I felt like our group did a great job in the fourth,” Horford said. “Locking in defensivley, everybody taking the challenge, trying to be better. That was quite a comeback, and we were really close, so I’m pretty encouraged with our group, and with the focus and intent we played with there. We knew we were gonna get their best shot today, and they put it out there. We were able to withstand it, and we just weren’t able to close the game. But, I’m pretty proud of our group, how we responded today.”
The Celtics will now head back to Boston ahead of game five, which is set to take place on Tuesday, May 9, in front of their hometown crowd in the TD Garden.