No suspense tonight at Wells Fargo Center, where the Sixers in total control easily crushed (111-99) the Celtics next to their pumps in the first half.
Led by their duo Joel Embiid (25 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists) – Tyrese Maxey (23 points, 5 assists), Philly players did not have to force their talent for a single moment to take over the franchise of Massachusetts, decidedly unable to find any semblance of continuity in its results.
And with this success, it is now eight wins for Philadelphia in its last ten games. The Top 4 in the East is therefore not that far away, since Doc Rivers’ men now have as many setbacks (17) as Milwaukee…
WHAT YOU MUST REMEMBER
— Philadelphia’s hot first quarter. If the Celtics’ zone defense was quite a hindrance to the Sixers, nothing happened in the first twelve minutes. Propelled by their huge « run » of 28-2 (!), Doc Rivers’ men quickly killed the suspense, with free throws, penetrations, award-winning baskets, transitions and, above all, defense. Like when the C’s had three and then five minutes without a single point (out of a total of 16 possessions…), due to Philadelphia’s interceptions and the regular watering of their players, stuck in the opposing false rhythm.
— Boston hoped… four minutes. Guided by Jayson Tatum and Al Horford, the Celtics got off to a good start tonight (10-4). Until their too many ball losses (20 in total, including 12 from the Tatum / Brown duo, resulting in 31 points for the Sixers) do not weigh down their efforts. Punished on every counter-attack (or almost), the C’s also suffered inside, in front of the percussions of Tyrese Maxey and the quiet strength of Joel Embiid. A performance to forget, somewhat embellished by a better second period (without hope coming), but which is ultimately like this team: disappointing.
— No new franchise record for Joel Embiid. By scoring 30 points, the Cameroonian would have become the only Sixers player to score 9 games in a row with 30 or more points. In front of Wilt Chamberlain (1965) and Allen Iverson (1999), who respectively stopped at 8. Author of « only » 25 points, « JoJo » must therefore be content to share this record with his elders. As a boss, he will however have delivered a solid performance this night, on each side of the floor. In particular in the third act, to repel the assaults of the trio Jayson Tatum – Jaylen Brown – Robert Williams (31 points accumulated, out of Boston’s 31!).
✅ Tyrese Maxey. While Joel Embiid had the opportunity to make Philadelphia history, it was ultimately the Sixers’ combo-guard who stole the show. Elusive on his penetrations and on fire behind the arc, « T-Max » was the perfect relay (if not more) of his « franchise player ». Allowing himself, as a bonus, not to lose any ball and to rotate the collective well with Seth Curry. A full game for the 21-year-old, who took pleasure in knocking out the Celtics in the first quarter (8 points), before finishing them off for good in the fourth (11 points).
✅ Matisse Thybulle. Apart from his worrying fall in the third act, ultimately without gravity, the Australian had a perfect evening. Because, beyond his few points scored in attack, the Sixers rear / winger was once again immense in defense, sometimes on Jayson Tatum (7/17 on shots, 7 lost balls), sometimes on Jaylen Brown ( 7/18 on shots, 5 lost balls). On absolutely all pass lines (5 interceptions), the one some imagine finishing Defender of the Year was the main architect, with Joel Embiid, of Boston’s offensive failure.
✅ Robert Williams & Payton Pritchard. Unquestionably the two most prominent and comfortable Boston players tonight. Still without Marcus Smart, Williams and Pritchard did everything they could to support Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown as best they could. Except that the two Celtics leaders needed half time to get going (and again), unlike their two teammates. Whether in the five (Williams) or off the bench (Pritchard), in the paint (Williams) or behind the arc (Pritchard), the two players fought like hell against Philly. In vain.
⛔ Boston’s first half. 35 points scored, 55 points conceded, 11 lost balls, 31% on shots, 32% from 3-pointers, 24 points conceded in the paint and 17 after lost balls… So many statistics that bear witness to the difficulties experienced by the Celtics, in the first period. Quickly knocked out by the Sixers, the C’s chained the bricks, as their nerves tensed. Philadelphia weren’t imperial though, just more efficient when needed, making for a gruesome 24 minutes from Ime Udoka’s men, muffled and clumsy as they could be, before raising their heads (a bit).
⛔ Dennis Schröder. If Josh Richardson, Grant Williams or Enes Freedom also missed their match, it is impossible not to insist more on the German’s completely missed performance: 1 point, 0/6 on shots… Ghostly in attack and exceeded in defense, the Celtics point guard has wandered like a soul on the floor of the Wells Fargo Center, when he is supposed to be the third offensive option and the main creator of the team, without Marcus Smart. That’s not going to silence the transfer rumors surrounding him…
Philadelphia (24-17) : “back-to-back” in Miami, this Saturday evening (02:00).
Boston (21-22) : “back-to-back” against Chicago, this Saturday evening (02:30).