Final Score: Boston 117, Philadelphia 101
In the eternal rust vs. rest debate, score one for rust. Six days after wrapping up their round 1 series victory against the Heat, the Sixers looked nothing like the team who had won 20 of their previous 21 games, getting railroaded by the Celtics in Boston to fall behind 1-0 in the series.
Philadelphia looked completely bewildered on the defensive end, leading to a plethora of wide open shots for the Celtics. Boston shot 17-36 (47.2%) from behind the arc, led by Terry Rozier, who went 7-9 for a team-high 29 points.
Jaylen Brown sat out for Boston with a hamstring injury, but rookie Jayson Tatum more than carried the load for the Jay-team. Brett Brown opted to mark Tatum with the Redick/Belinelli pairing early on, and both of those guys were completely at a loss to slow him down. Tatum repeatedly got to the rim at will, either finishing around the basket or drawing a foul, going 11-12 from the free throw line.
Meanwhile, Al Horford fundamentaled his way to 26 points on a stellar 10-12 shooting night. The Celtics big man drained a handful of midrange jumpers and extended his range out behind the arc for 2 threes on 3 attempts. Horford also sonned Marco Belinelli on a driving slam when the Sixers guard had the unfortunate fate of getting switched onto him.
For the Sixers, Joel Embiid had a terrific game offensively, scoring a game-high 31 points on 12-21 shooting, to go along with 13 rebounds, and 5 assists. His work down low against Aron Baynes was the most consistent source of offense for Philadelphia.
Ben Simmons had some hellacious dunks on his way to 18 points, but struggled with 7 turnovers and never looked to be completely at ease controlling the flow of the action. The rookie looked tired in going for an exhausting 42 minutes of action.
Jerryd Bayless played 2 minutes; Markelle Fultz played zero. Buy a lottery ticket for me if you predicted that would happen ahead of time.
The good news is it was only one game. You have to figure the team won’t shoot as poorly as 5-26 from three again this series. Robert Covington, Ersan Ilyasova, and Marco Belinelli should go better than 5-24 from the field.
Areas of concern definitely exist though. Belinelli might be unplayable if Boston is going to be able to continue to score at will against him. The Sixers need either Fultz or McConnell to offer some serviceable minutes and give Ben a breather. Covington can’t have another game where he is not only missing shots, but is committing serious defensive lapses.
The Sixers need to shake this one off. Boston held serve at home, but Philadelphia still has an opportunity to steal a game on the road Thursday night and flip home court advantage. It’s going to be a long three days of soul searching though.