By Tristan Deschenes, 98.5 The Sports Hub
For just the first time all year, the Boston Celtics have suffered losses in three straight games thanks to a 109-98 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center.
This loss started out looking like anything but, as Brad Stevens’ team finally got off to a hot start, knocking down six of nine threes and scoring 35 points in the first quarter, good for their first first-quarter lead in two games. After leading by as many as 15, the Celtics let the 76ers back into the game in the second quarter, as the Celtics went on a four-minute scoring drought that led to a 12-0 run for Philly, though Boston would hang onto a 55-48 lead heading into the half.
But with urgency on Philadelphia’s side, the Sixers started the second half on an 11-0 run and took a 59-57 lead with 9:07 to play in the quarter. Kemba Walker kept the Celtics in the game after a three pointer tied the game back up at 69 with 4:48 left in the quarter, and Boston led by three heading into the 4th.
The response was wasted, however, as Philadelphia owned the fourth quarter, and outscored the Celtics 32-18.
The Celtics got the 76er lead down to two with just over four minutes to go after a Daniel Theis bucket, but Philadelphia would not let Walker and Co. back into it. The 76ers used a 7-0 run, topped off by a Ben Simmons jump hook with 2:25 to go to put the 76ers up 103-94. Boston would get the lead down to seven with 1:01 to go, but an offensive rebound by Matisse Thybulle with 34 seconds left ultimately sealed the deal.
Walker led the way for Boston scoring 26 points on the night, while Marcus Smart had a big game off the bench, scoring 24 points. But Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Gordon Hayward all struggled mightily offensively, and combined to shoot 10-of-36 from the field for an abysmal 27.8 percent.
The Green’s loss gave the Sixers three wins in as many meetings with Boston this season, and they did it without starting center Joel Embid available. It’s just the first of many without Embiid for the Sixers, too, as the team announced that the superstar big will be out for multiple weeks after suffering a torn ligament in his hand.
Without Embiid in the lineup, the 76ers were led by Josh Richardson’s 29 points, who also dished out seven assists by the night’s end, while Simmons tallied 19 points and nine rebounds.
And ex-Celtic Al Horford also got back to his old self with Embiid out, and posted a stat line similar to the ones he regularly put up as a Celtic, scoring 17 points, grabbing eight rebounds, and adding six assists.
The loss dropped the Celtics record to 25-11 on the season, and ensured that the 76ers have won the season series against Boston, which could certainly affect playoff seeding down the line for these two rivals.
The Celtics will return to Boston and play the New Orleans Pelicans at the TD Garden on Saturday night.