By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
It took Aron Baynes getting injured, Marcus Smart getting ejected, and a 43-16 Philadelphia advantage at the free throw line, but the Philadelphia 76ers finally defeated the Boston Celtics on Wednesday in a 118-115 final.
With the Celtics up 11 at halftime, it really wasn’t until the aforementioned Baynes exit and Smart ejection took effect that the Sixers really seemed to find their confidence and the matchups they wanted against a suddenly-undermanned Celtics squad.
Without Baynes to provide some muscle against Joel Embiid, the Sixer big simply dominated, and finished his night with 37 points and 22 rebounds in 41:10 of play. That stellar performance made Embiid the first player to drop at least 30 points and 20 rebounds on the C’s since Anthony Davis accomplished the feat in 2014. In fact, it’s something that’s been done just five times in all since 1999, and by just four players before Embiid (Davis, Dirk Nowitzki, and Shaquille O’Neal twice).
But the 25-year-old Embiid’s biggest contribution in a winning effort came late, as the 7-footer came through with a massive on a late-game Kyrie Irving drive to the hoop.
And without Smart, the Celtics lacked that tenacious, in-your-face defender that could have helped slow down what was an unstoppable fourth-quarter takeover from the Sixers’ Jimmy Butler.
Playing the entire fourth quarter, Butler converted on all but three of his eight attempts in the frame for a total of 15 points. For Butler, the deathblow came on the mid-range two Butler dropped with Irving down and out with five seconds left in what was then a three-point contest.
On the Celtics side of things, Irving was perhaps the only Celtic that held up their end of the bargain until the wheels came off his game in the fourth quarter, as he finished with 36 points in 35:42 of action.
With the win, the Sixers avoided a season sweep at the hands of the Celtics.
The Celts are back in action Saturday night against the Charlotte Hornets.