Round Two: Sixers vs Celtics
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The Sixers defeated the Boston Celtics in game one of their two game series on Wednesday night 117-109. The game itself, wasn’t as pretty as the final score. Ben Simmons was in foul trouble the entire second half of the game and was limited to just 11 points on 2-5 shooting. Rookie Tyrese Maxey was scoreless in 21 minutes as a starter and the Sixers shot 33% from three, well below their season average.
The Boston Celtics beat up the once top-ranked Sixers defense and shot over 47% from the floor without Jayson Tatum. Luckily for the Sixers, Joel Embiid continued his MVP campaign run and led the 76ers with 42 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, two steals, and a block. The big man scored 42 points on 19 shots while getting most of the work done from the free throw line.
Tonight, the Sixers starting lineup will be back at full-strength. They are undefeated with all of their starters in the lineup. Seth Curry aka The Space God has returned and if he can pick up where he left off before being diagnosed with COVID-19 two weeks ago, the Sixers will have their elite three point shooter back to help carry some of the weight that’s been left on Joel Embiid.
Last game was yet another bad game for Simmons offensively. He managed to only score 11 points on 2-5 shooting. Simmons did start to dial up the aggressiveness that we all hope and pray for every game in the third quarter but ended up picking up two fouls, putting him at five for the game. Defensively, Simmons was fantastic as usual. In the final minutes, Simmons stripped Daniel Theis with the Sixers up four points to help seal the game. The Sixers need Ben Simmons to remain aggressive for an entire game. It feels like every game this season, we only get a glimpse of Simmons being the player he needs to be night in and night out.
Last game, the Sixers were torched by the Boston Celtics through the first three quarters of the game. They allowed 92 points on 34-67 shooting and 11-24 from three point range. They did turn it around in the final frame, holding the Celtics to 17 points on 8-22 shooting. This team needs to use the fourth quarter of last game as a launch point to get back on track after poor defensive showings over the last few weeks. Granted, the Sixers have been crushed by health and safety protocols but it’s time their defense comes out and makes a statement through four quarters tonight.
Tobias Harris was huge down the stretch on Wednesday night, scoring nine fourth-quarter points. He was 3-3 from the field and ended the night with 22 points on 9-17 shooting. Harris has continued his strong play throughout the season and has progressed into a quick decision maker for the Sixers. Although he’s often overlooked on the stat sheet, he’s been the Sixers’ most consistent threat on the court that’s not named Joel Embiid.
The Bench Mob
The Sixers bench has been fantastic this year. With Curry expected to play tonight, that will likely mean Tyrese Maxey will join the bench mob tonight. Maxey was scoreless in 21 minutes as a starter on Wednesday night. Matisse Thybulle was also scoreless off the bench for the Sixers.
Shake Milton leads the bench mob and has been better than anything we could have asked for heading into the season. Over his past five games, Milton has put up numbers that would easily land him atop of the 6th Man of the Year rankings in the NBA.
- 28 PTS – 4 AST
- 31 PTS – 7 AST
- 24 PTS – 7 AST
- 19 PTS – 3 AST
- 16 PTS – 1 AST
Milton can’t do this alone. Dwight Howard has been great off the bench when Embiid needs a rest but guard play from Thybulle and Maxey needs to be better. The Sixers also got Furkan Korkmaz back last game which was a huge help. Furk scored 7 points and highlighted the night with an unbelievable dunk in transition.
Finally, the Sixers have their starting lineup together again. The Sixers are currently -4.5 ahead of tonight’s game and I am absolutely taking it. Joel Embiid cannot be stopped in the paint and getting Seth Curry back as a threat alongside the perimeter will make it even more difficult for defenses to collapse into the paint. Shots will be open and the floor will be spread out tonight, giving Tobias Harris and Ben Simmons lanes to attack while shooters are open and available to knock down shots along the outside.
Make sure to tune into Process to Progress – The Liberty Line’s Sixers Podcast
Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY