Sixers Lose 109-101 in Game 1
The Sixers were back last night playing playoff basketball for the first time since last year’s crushing defeat in Game 7 against Toronto. They were facing the Celtics, the team didn’t have Ben Simmons, and of course, 4th quarter leadership and firepower went missing as they were outscored 34-22 in the final 12 minutes to lose 109-101.
Embiid was dominant. He had 26 points on only 15 shots, with 16 rebounds. Embiid only shooting the ball 15 times was puzzling given the fact that he absolutely dominated from inside the paint.
As I previewed before the game, this series is going to come down to how well the Sixers can defend the Celtics’ guards. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker combined to score 81 points, 30 of which came in the fourth quarter. Not great.
Josh Richardson had 18 points and played fairly well on the perimeter defending Boston’s guards. Matisse Thybulle set the tone on defense and did a tremendous job guarding Jayson Tatum.
When guarded by Thybulle, Tatum was held to 4 points, 2-9 from the floor, 0-1 from three, and had a shot blocked. On the other hand, when someone else on the Sixers guarded Tatum, he was able to shred the Sixers defense for 28 points, 8-12 from the floor, 2-4 from three.
The Sixers struggled with turnovers early. They stacked up 14 turnovers in the first half (18 total). The lack of primary ball handlers was on full display. It didn’t help that they were facing Boston who has seemingly an unlimited amount of ball handlers either. Boston did however, show some weakness in the 3rd quarter as the Sixers made a 20-5 run to take the lead after being down double digits. The 4th quarter however, was more of the same struggles we’ve seen in year’s past with the Sixers.
Tobias Harris scored 15 points on 15 shots. He also did not manage to hit a three ball. Al Horford needed to contribute offensively, he did not. He only managed 6 points and was a -18 overall on the court. The supporting cast needs to be better. Alec Burks played well. He had 18 points and did everything possible to deliver a win for the 76ers last night in the 4th quarter. Milton also played well offensively, going 3-5 from deep with 13 points.
Look, there’s always plenty of things to be mad about. Embiid not getting the ball in his hands in the final minutes, why the Sixers didn’t draft Jayson Tatum, why max contract Tobias Harris didn’t show up to earn his money last night, Al Horford, Brett Brown, the list goes on and on. However, I do believe that there were a lot of correctable errors last night, specifically turnovers, that the Sixers can hopefully address on Wednesday.
If you clean up the sloppy play in the 1st half the Sixers run away clean with this game.
This series is far from over. If anything, Boston showed they could be beaten last night. It’s now up to the Sixers to prove it.