Celtics stars struggle in 106-103 loss to the 76ers
The 5-1 Boston Celtics headed to Philadelphia on Wednesday night to take on the 5-1 Philadelphia 76ers in an early season Eastern Conference heavyweight battle. The Celtics are without a doubt NBA Championship hopefuls, while the 76ers seem to have a new sense of energy with James Harden gone and Joel Embiid continuing his MVP play from last season.
The Celtics got off to a hot start in this one with Derrick White and Jayson Tatum leading the way in the first quarter. White had 7 points 4 rebounds and 3 assists in the first quarter, which ended with the Celtics leading by five 27-22.
The Celtics good play was halted early in the second quarter as the 76ers went on a 20-5 run to take the lead halfway through the second. Led by Embiid and Tyrese Maxey the Sixers took every chance to run on the Celtics and forced them into bad shots early in the shot clock. Kristaps Porzingis did come alive for the Celtics in the second quarter leading all scorers at the half with 16 points 3 rebounds and 1 assist. That wasn’t enough though as the Celtics other stars Tatum and Jaylen Brown were 5/15 in the half and the team was outscored 37-19 in the second quarter giving them a 7 point halftime deficit 61-54.
The third quarter was a back and forth battle with both teams taking and giving punches, Tatum hit his first 3 pointer of the night to make it a two point game with 7:00 minutes left in the third. Jaylen Brown’s struggles continued in this one with some ugly turnovers while being 2/9 from the field halfway through the third. Celtics fans will be happy to know that Joe Mazzula called a timeout late in the third after a poor 3-point attempt and a Sixers miss while they were on a run and the Celtics were trailing 72-68 with 3:43 left in the third. The rest of the third quarter was a nightmare for the Celtics though, Porzingis missed an easy dunk and the Sixers went on a massive run to end the quarter with a 10 point lead (only the second time this season the Celtics have trailed by 10) 81-71 at the end of three.
The Celtics struggled to score in the third quarter scoring only 17 points in large part because two of their stars, Tatum and Brown, were 6/22 from the field. Brown’s struggles continued early in the fourth with another costly turnover forcing Mazzula to sit him down with 9:08 left in the quarter. Embiid and Maxey continued to pour it on getting the lead back to ten multiple times in the quarter. The Celtics didn’t get it much closer than that the rest of the quarter as the Sixers dominated, playing through Embiid getting numerous wide open looks for his teammates. Boston did have one final push under two minutes to cut it to 104-100 after scoring an astonishing ten points in 57 seconds to put the 76ers on their heels.
Embiid hit a tough jumper with Tatum guarding him to extend the 76ers lead to 6 with 38 seconds left but the Celtics wouldn’t go away, Brown would hit a 3 to make it 106-103 with 30 seconds left. The Sixers had some panic set in and the Celtics defense forced a shot clock violation but Porzingis came up just short on his game tying 3 point attempt at the end of regulation and the 76ers take control of the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 106-103 win. Celtics played well late in this game but it wasn’t enough to overcome the struggles of Tatum and Brown in this one.
The Celtics will make their in season tournament debut on Friday night against the Brooklyn Nets, debuting their new court and city edition jerseys. The Celtics will look to get back on track against an up and down Brooklyn team.
- Nick Nurse has had a real impact on the culture in Philadelphia.
- Celtics bench depth is still an issue.
- Tatum and Embiid are going to be battling for the MVP all season.
- Jaylen Brown’s inconsistency is still a problem.