The Sixers travelled to the TD Garden in Boston for the first time since their meeting in October. This game was important as going into the game, the Sixers were 2-4 against the top teams in the East (Toronto, Milwaukee, and Indiana).
The Sixers started the game out fast, and Joel Embiid got going early scoring 11 points off 3-4 from the field. JJ Redick scored ten points, but Kyrie Irving’s first quarter was nuts: 7-10 FG, 16 points, 4 rebounds (three offensive). They tried to get out fast in transition when they could, but it just looked fast (not SMART and fast). Boston shot 54% from the field in the first twelve and led by seven after one.
Quarter number two began the same way number one ended: with Irving still getting buckets. Jimmy Butler began to heat up a tad shooting 3-4 and Redick had another five in the quarter. Embiid continued to be hot with 4-7 in the second getting any bucket he wanted against the Celtics front court (be it Al Horford or Daniel Theis). “Uncle Drew” was just a little too much in the first half for my liking: 23 points (10-15 from the floor), five rebounds, and an assist.
Ben Simmons had a VERY QUIET 5/5/4 in the first half, but he also picked up three personal fouls. TJ McConnell came in early for 13 minutes but was a -8 in those minutes. Jayson Tatum – theoretical Sixers public enemy #1 in Boston – was 4/10 in the first half with only 12 points. Kyrie Irving and Marcus Morris (???) were 15-22 in the first half, and the rest of the Celtics were 7-29. Incredibly, the Sixers were only down six at the half.
For the Sixers, Embiid & Redick had 34 of the team’s 51 points, and the bench produced a donut in the points column. The turnover bug continued to be an issue as the Celtics converted nine turnovers into 15 points.
The second half started with the Sixers going on a quick 8-2 run to tie the game at 59 on a nice pick and roll Butler to Simmons handoff. That was short lived after more turnovers put the Celtics back up by four. That’s when the Celtics began getting threes from known (but not superstar) sources in Marcus Morris and Marcus Smart. However, a Mike Muscala three and two free throws capped a 9-0 run late in the third to give the Sixers their first lead in a long while at 83-81. They took the lead 89-86 shooting 62% in the third.
To start the fourth, the Celtics got a three pointer from Terry Rozier to tie the game at 89 but didn’t get another field goal for three minutes. The Sixers used that to go on a 8-2 run fueled by threes by Wilson Chandler (!) and Furkan Korkmaz. A Terry Rozier three bandaged some of the bleeding with a quick 5-0 run by the Celtics.
The final twelve was very back and forth with several moments including the rarely seen Ben Simmons jumper with 6:17 left to give the Sixers a 100-96 lead. After that, there was a lot of missed field goals as neither team was able to capitalize, but two Morris free throws gave Boston the lead at 104-103 with under two minutes to play. Wilson Chandler – yes, Wilson Chandler – went on a personal 5-0 run to give the Sixers the lead 108-106, but Irving continued to be spectacular hitting this insane shot over Butler:
Redick missed the potential game winner to send the game into overtime.
In overtime, the Sixers took a five-point lead after a Marcus Smart technical foul, but Irving scored six points almost instantly to give the Celtics a four point lead. Embiid got the first two points of overtime, but did not get a single offensive touch in overtime. The one he had led to a turnover. The frustration and offensive futility continued, and the Sixers fell 121-114.
Irving finished with 40 points on 33 shots. Tatum and Morris both had 23. For the Sixers, both Embiid (34/16) and Simmons (11/14) had double doubles. Jimmy Butler finished with 24. Every Sixers starter finished with double digits, but they got 13 bench points.
This one hurt, ya’ll. If anyone needs me, I’ll be drowning my sorrows (and frustration) in cheesecake.