The 76ers beat the Celtics 122-110 on Friday night to improve to 11-5 on the season and 9-1 at home. The Celtics fall to 8-6 and drop from the 3rd seed to the 4th seed. The game was almost exactly like the one on Wednesday night. The Celtics had a lead, the game was close throughout, the 76ers took the lead, and then the Celtics struggle to come back and lose. Brad Stevens was not happy about their performance and honestly, I 100% agree with him. Yes, this team is without their best player and that makes a huge difference, but the Celtics still should pick it up on the defensive end with or without Tatum. Philadelphia turned the ball over 20 times and they still won by 12. Why? The Celtics only scored 19 points off of those turnovers. For comparison, the 76ers scored 21 points off of Boston’s 13 turnovers. The 76ers shot 55% from the field and outscored Boston 97-77 after the Celtics led by 8 at the end of the 1st quarter.
Joel Embiid continued to dominate the Celtics. No, he did not have 21 free throws or 42 points, but he still had 38 points on 11-15 shooting and 14-15 from the free throw line. The Celtics brought in Tristan Thompson to guard Embiid, Adebayo, Davis, etc. but so far the results have not been pretty. Embiid basically gets whatever he wants against him. Tobias Harris was almost automatic tonight. He finished with 23 points on 10-12 shooting and 3-3 from 3 point range. To put the cherry on top of all of this, Ben Simmons was extremely quiet all night on the offensive end until the 4th quarter when he single handily led the 76ers to victory. He had 15 points and 11 assists.
On Boston’s side, the offense pretty much consisted of Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and Kemba Walker. I tweeted that those three were responsible for 81 of the Celtics 110 points. Jaylen Brown was phenomenal tonight as he tied his career high with 42 points on 16-28 shooting to go along with 9 rebounds. Kemba had 19 points and Smart finished with 20. Outside of them, the leading scorer were Daniel Theis and Javonte Green with 7. I do understand that when Tatum comes back, the offensive load on all 3 of those players will decrease, but if the Celtics want banner 18, they need someone else to consistently contribute and knock down shots. A guy who has been doing that all year, Payton Pritchard, unfortunately left the game with a left knee sprain, though Brad Stevens says that he will undergo more testing tomorrow. If he is out for a while, this Celtics bench is in trouble.
These were two pretty ugly losses to our “rival”, but we just need to move on. The Celtics next face the Cavaliers, who just won two straight against the Nets, as hopefully Jayson Tatum returns.