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Jan 20, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) dribbles against Boston Celtics center Daniel Theis (27) during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com

It was a close one throughout, but the Celtics faltered in the final minutes on Wednesday, falling to the Philadelphia 76ers 117-109. Neither team led by double-digits at any point in the game, the first meeting of the season between the two.

Right away, the Celtics shook off their struggles from their last game out, a Sunday loss to the Knicks that featured a historically rough offensive performance. This time around they started hot, as Kemba Walker buried a pair of three pointers as the C’s jumped out 12-4. However, the Sixers responded with a 9-0 run, giving them a 13-12 lead at the TV timeout.

Boston’s cold spell from the weekend appeared again out of the break, and Philadelphia was able to expand its lead. After 12 minutes, they led 32-25.

Jan 20, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) controls the ball against Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker during the fourth quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Midway through the second quarter the Celtics were able to put together an 11-1 run, with mostly their bench on the floor. A Jeff Teague floater and-one with just over seven minutes to go gave them a 40-38 lead.

The Celtics held that lead for most of the second quarter, but after getting into the bonus the Sixers were able to grab the lead back with free throws at the two minute mark. Following those free throws, Boston closed the half on a 7-3 run, and went into the break up 61-58.

In the third quarter the teams traded baskets, with neither side leading by more than four until a Jaylen Brown floater with three minutes left. That shot came in the midst of a 9-0 Celtics run. Philly was able to close the gap a bit, but Boston led heading into the fourth quarter, 92-86.

Neither team was able to pull away for most of the fourth quarter. Halfway through the frame, the teams were still going back-and-forth, within three points of each other. Things stayed that way until the final minute, when a questionable foul call on Daniel Theis gave the Sixers free throws to go up 115-109. Boston wouldn’t score again.

Jan 20, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Boston Celtics center Daniel Theis (27) fouls Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) away from the ball during the fourth quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Joel Embiid was a problem for the Celtics all night. He scored a game-high 42 points, with 17 of those coming from the line. His 21 free throw attempts alone were more than the entire Celtics team (20). He also grabbed 10 rebounds.

Jaylen Brown led the Celtics in scoring with 26 points, Marcus Smart was right behind him at 25. Daniel Theis turned in a career effort in the loss, with a 23-point, 11-rebound double-double. 

Kemba Walker looked much improved from a shaky season debut in which he shot 3-of-13. The 30-year-old scored 19 points, and dished out six assists.

With the loss, the Celtics fall to 8-5 on the year. The teams meet for the second-half of the two-game set on Friday, with tipoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m.. Coverage for that one begins with a 7:00 pregame show on 98.5 The Sports Hub.

Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at Alexander.Barth@bbgi.com