Closing moments of season-ending playoff loss will motivate Joel Embiid

Damon Stoudamire

Closing moments of season-ending playoff loss will motivate Joel Embiid

Aron Baynes' Boston Celtics have eliminated Ben Simmons' Philadelphia 76ers from the National Basketball Association playoffs in a thriller.

In every great National Basketball Association player's narrative there's a moment he'd like to forget that actually turns into a point in time that shapes the rest of his career for the better.

"Amazing" is how Celtics' veteran Al Horford described the often unsung Baynes' performance in Wednesday's 114-112 thriller victory in Boston that clinched a 4-1 eastern conference semi-finals series win over the 76ers. 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.

Boston outplayed Philadelphia in clutch time throughout the series, outscoring the Sixers 51-39 when games entered the final five minutes with a margin of five or fewer points.

"He was, like, 'There's going to be a lot of rings on these, '" Embiid said.

76ers centre Joel Embiid had 27 points and 12 rebounds.

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"I feel like we had more [to show]".

"We feel like when everybody is on, we're unbeatable". According to ESPN Stats & Info, Embiid has struggled mightily in that regard this season as he missed all eight shots that could have been game-tying or go-ahead field goals. The duo helped Philly finish the regular season 52-30, capturing the No. 3 seed, before the 76ers disposed of Miami, 4-1, in the first round.

"We've got a lot of heart", said Jayson Tatum, who led the Celtics with 25 points.

While the Cleveland Cavaliers - the favorites to beat the Celtics and go to the NBA Finals for the fourth consecutive season - still might represent "the now" as it relates to the NBA landscape, in large because LeBron James remains the best player on the planet, Boston and Philadelphia both are on the rise.

"Coming into this building and arena the fans are awesome here", Simmons said. But by pairing Embiid with 2016 No. 1 pick Ben Simmons, Philadelphia found a young one-two punch as intimidating as any in the National Basketball Association.

Embiid is right. Should the pair stay healthy and should the Sixers continue to build on their success in the right way, the Sixers should have a bright, competitive future. "I felt like I had (a) lot more to go".

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