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The short-handed Boston Celtics were set to take on the rival Philadelphia 76ers for the second time in less than three weeks on Monday. As the Celtics players were being introduced for the night, those in attendance at TD Garden had an unsettling experience. The building’s alarm system kicked in and an evacuation announcement was made, leaving fans, players, and members of the media deeply confused.

Confusion took over right before tipoff of the Celtics vs. 76ers game

Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on before the game against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on December 20, 2021, in Boston, Massachusetts | Omar Rawlings/Getty Images.

It’s been a tough week in the NBA. Since Dec. 14, seven games have been postponed as COVID-19 runs rampant once again. More than 70 players are in the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, and the numbers keep climbing.

Things got even weirder Monday when those alarms went off at TD Garden, causing confusion throughout the building. After the alarms sounded, an announcement with an evacuation procedure was put into place should it be deemed the arena needed to be cleared.

It wasn’t just the fans who were left confused and a bit nervous.

Tim Bontemps, covering the game for ESPN, reported an evacuation alert was announced, but then people were left wondering what to do next.

“It remains unclear as to what is going to happen next,” he posted on Twitter. “Both teams are just standing on the court. The alert said there would be an announcement after telling people to leave if needed, but one didn’t happen. Now there’s no indication of what comes next.”

Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe also posted on his Twitter account that he’d “Seen some surreal stuff in my 12 years here in Boston, this may take the cake.”

The alarm before the Celtics vs. 76ers was the result of a burst pipe at a concession stand

After a short delay and several tense moments, the introduction of players resumed with no official announcement of what happened. The game began with rumors swirling why the alarms went off. Even Sixers head coach Doc Rivers had no clue what was going on.

“I thought it was part of the intro,” Doc Rivers said after the game, according to Boston Sports Journal. “I was thinking, ‘Wow, that’s a loud intro.’ And then the delay … that was just strange.”

The team later announced a burst pipe at a concession stand triggered the craziness. After a seven-minute delay, the game went on.

Although they had seven players in the health and safety protocols, the Celtics managed to field a team. Center Robert Williams, not one of the seven in protocols, also was out for personal reasons. The Sixers weren’t sure they would have an opponent to face.

“We rolled up today with the cases spreading the way they are, they might not have enough guys to go,” said Sixers forward Tobias Harris, per ESPN. “That’s the nature of the business in the NBA right now until everybody gets out of safety protocols.”

The Celtics blew yet another late lead


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Despite the wacky start to the game, it was the same old result for the struggling Celtics. It was one that got away.

Although it wasn’t like the two 19-point leads they squandered earlier this season, it was still a game Boston should have pulled out.

Joel Embiid scored 17 of his 41 points in the fourth quarter as the Celtics blew a seven-point lead with 4:14 remaining to fall to 15-16.

Jaylen Brown led the way for the Celtics with 30 points. Jayson Tatum finished with 17.

“We had so many excuses that we were making tonight,” Brown said, according to Boston Sports Journal. “It was cold in the arena, the fire alarm kind of slowed everything down, we had guys out. Like, who cares? We’ve just got to come out and find a way to bring energy, set the tone, and have a sense of urgency about ourselves.”

And the beat goes on for the Celtics.