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Congratulations To The Sixers For Their First Win Of The Season Over The Celtics And Their 4th In The Last 25 Games

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Before we get started, let’s take a moment to congratulate the Sixers and their fans for their yearly sole win over the Boston Celtics in the last meeting of the regular season. It’s been their thing the last three years to win the final matchup of the year between these two teams, and lord knows it’s been a while since they’ve been able to celebrate so I say let them have their moment. Don’t get triggered by Sixers Twitter that will be puffing their chest out today mostly because had the Celtics won we’d be doing the same thing. This whole thing is pretty new to them so you’ll see a lot of trash talk like “Kyrie’s leaving!” which they think is a great burn until they remember they lost to a Kyrie-less team in a quick 5 games. Then they’ll say something like “well not this new team!” pretty much forgetting the fact that just a month ago the undermanned Celtics without Kyrie went into this building and beat the new look Sixers before the break.

Then you’ll most likely they the “5 seed” burn, almost as if Sixers fans don’t know how to read a schedule and realize the Pacers are up a game with an absolutely brutal schedule the rest of the way. Instead, they don’t realize that finishing in the 4/5 bracket is actually the easier playoff path and them locking up the 3 seed only makes things harder for them when things really matter, but again just let them have their moment in the sun today. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be owned by one team so badly and have the type of blue balls on Twitter that Sixers fans must have had, so I’m happy for them that they finally can release it all.

In terms of the Celts? Well no other way to put it other than this was another blown game. For the second game in a row they folded down the stretch, and whether they were without key guys or not, whether PHI lived at the line or not, the Celtics still had every opportunity to win this game and THEY blew it. It’s OK to own up to that reality because in my opinion it’s the truth. You blow a 15 point lead and then another fourth quarter lead, that’s on you.

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Was it frustrating? You betcha, anyone who says it wasn’t is lying. But I walk out of last night pretty much just as confident against the Sixers if it took that type of performance just to win by 3 at home. I can live with that. With that said, let’s get started

The Good

– One thing we know for sure, is that Al Horford still owns this matchup. Simple minded Sixers fans will see Embiid’s 37/20 and hear him talk about how he’s the most unstoppable player in the league, and they’ll eat it up while the rest of us will simply look at the facts. Those tell us what we already know. Not only was Horford a matchup problem on the offensive end with his 22/6/5 on 9-16 shooting

but when matched up with that “most unstoppable player in the league” on 42 possessions he held Embiid to just 5 points on 1-5 shooting and 3 FTM. Seems to me like he was pretty successful at stopping him, but again don’t let facts get in the way of a good quote. Let the Sixers fans rub their nipples to his performance while deep down ignoring the reality that Al Horford still owns that ass and that’s not changing anytime soon.

It was also good to see Al was really the only Celtic that showed up in the fourth quarter when things got tight, a true sign that Playoff Al is right around the corner.

– While he faded late, the Celtics aren’t even in this game if not for the offensive wizardry of Kyrie Irving. Right from the jump he exposed mismatches, got to the rim with ease, and there wasn’t a Sixer on the roster that really had an answer for him. Simmons had him the most and gave up 15 points on 5-10 shooting, Embiid had his issues as well, and while it’s always dicey to rely so heavily on Kyrie’s offense, for the most part he delivered

He talked after the game about how he missed some bunnies and his 29 FGA obviously led the Celts, but given their roster situation and how he was scoring dearly I don’t really have a problem with his usage. He’s now notched 30 points in four straight games for the first time in his career, and again an offensive showing like this on the road in a hostile environment is why Ainge traded for him in the first place. Between this and the 40 spot he dropped on Christmas, I’d say Kyrie likes this matchup.

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– I’m pretty sure this was the best we’ve seen Terry Rozier play maybe all season off the bench. It was the first time all year that he and Kyrie both had 20+, and he came out firing. Half of his FGA and FGM were threes, but he also did a great job on the glass against a solid rebounding team

Now he may look a little silly with all the junk he talked before the game only to ultimately lose it, but he certainly held up his end of the bargain. More often than not if this is the version of Terry the Celts are going to get off the bench they’ll be just fine. Someone had to step up with Hayward being out, and Terry rose to the occasion.

– Celts won the points in the paint battle 54-40, the fast break points battle 16-9, the 2nd chance points battle 20-18, had single digit turnovers and shot 46%, held PHI to 37/33% and limited their outside shooting. They didn’t play poorly by any stretch, and in my opinion things would have been way worse had they gone into PHI and got smoked. It took a pretty rare feat in NBA history for them to drop this game and I can live with that.

The Bad

– We may as well start with the second half because that’s really where things turned. The Celts put up a brutal 46 points on just 38/27% splits and with their lack of offense it was pretty important that they actually showed a pulse on the defensive end. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen either. The Sixers came out and dropped 60 second half points and had their best quarter in the fourth with 35 on 54/40% splits. Pretty much the same shit we saw against the Nuggets and that’s the annoying part. We’re still looking for this team to put together consistent 48 minute efforts, and I don’t know how many more games we need to see them lose when they don’t do that before they wake up.

– The injury to Baynes sucks because anyone who watches this team knows how important he is to what they do, but losing him was not why the Celtics lost this game. He was providing absolutely zero resistance against Embiid, allowed 15 points on 19 possessions and 8 FTM. Embiid owned that matchup the same way Horford owned him. So I’m not ready to blindly assume things drastically change in the second half if Baynes is on the floor because we have no evidence to support that. Chances are it most likely would have been more of the same.

The focus now is if he’ll be ready for the playoffs, because we probably won’t see him again in the regular season.

– Given who was out Brad really didn’t have a choice, but this was a tough one to have to play Mook 35 minutes. The offense wasn’t there, his defense in the fourth quarter was a huge reason why they ultimately lost, and his -14 certainly wasn’t all that great. If there were other bodies available who knows if he’s on the floor in crunch time, but he certainly did more harm than good. Ben Simmons ate him alive and got wherever he wanted, he had a terrible angle on one of the biggest plays of the night with Simmons’ And1 at the end, and overall it was mostly a forgettable night.

– I hate to do this to him because he was so good for 95% of the game, but Kyrie did come back into the game with 6:35 left in the fourth up 5, and finished that quarter 1-6. It felt like he was a little homerun happy the entire second half, and especially down the stretch on the fourth quarter. Again you live with it because of his talent, but I just wish he would have stayed aggressive the entire quarter, especially when things weren’t falling. I really did not love his patented side step three late in the fourth after a Harris dunk when they really needed a bucket

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especially when you have Embiid on an island and no rim protection. Embiid had played 40 minutes at that point, go by him!

– Only 3 FGA for Jaylen I feel is irresponsible by this offense. He made all three, had a clear matchup advantage against Redick, and they just didn’t go to him. There is no excuse given what we’ve seen him do against this team for him to have a 7% usage rate. He attacked in the few opportunities he had, and it was a missed opportunity to not exploit that on a consistent basis.

The Ugly

– I don’t want to put this here because on some level I loved it, but Marcus Smart getting tossed backfired big time

not only did it energize the building, but it also energized Embiid which was a problem. Ejected up 12 just a minute into the third, it was a 4 point game 1 minute later. Then once the offense went cold and they didn’t have one of their better defenders available, a comfortable game became a rock fight in a matter of minutes. With Hayward out and Baynes out this was really a selfish thing for Smart to do and Brad talked about it after the game, and we get 1 or 2 of these a year it seems. I’m sure he’ll take responsibility for it and that’s fine, but in a game like this you have to keep your emotions in check. There are going to be situations like this in the playoffs, and we can’t have Smart getting himself tossed, he’s too important.

– Listen, the Celtics couldn’t really defend without fouling, so while the 43-16 FTA difference is pretty outrageous, and the 25-17 foul difference is frustrating, it’s whatever. Again they STILL had a chance to win regardless. Something tells me that a FT performance like that would be tough to replicate 4 times in a 7 game series because it basically hadn’t happened this season for either team before tonight, so it’s fine. The Sixers got a huge advantage from the line and cashed in on those opportunities. I say defend better and execute better down the stretch and it’s not an issue.

– Speaking of that late game execution, where was it? The Sixers are one of the best clutch teams in the league, and this team had 3 FGM in the last 4 minutes of this game (I’m not counting Tatum’s buzzer beater at the end). Meanwhile, they were giving up the paint with ease. Over those same 4 minutes no Sixer scored outside of 2 ft until Butlers jumper to seal it, and their 13 points either came from layups/dunks or the FT line. That is soft as hell. Where’s the resistance to make them actually beat you shooting the ball, something they hadn’t done all night? What we saw was the very definition of a collapse, and that’s on Kyrie/Al and the starters. During that 4 min stretch the shot distribution looked like this

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Kyrie: 1-6

Horford: 1-1

Tatum: 1-2

Morris: 0-1

That’s annoying.


So like I said, let the Sixers fans have their moment today, because as history has shown it may be another 20 something games before they ever get to have this feeling again.