The Philadelphia 76ers lost 103-108 to the Boston Celtics tonight in what was the most frustrating game played by this team in a long time. At the start of the game, everything was coming up Sixers. J.J. Redick was hotter than hot and ultimately stayed that way the entire game. He finished with a game-high 23 points and shot 56% from beyond the arc. The defense was locked in, shots were falling, and the Celtics were missing shots. Then, like a thief in the night, the Celtics came. The Sixers stopped playing defense and the Celtics went on a 25-8 run to end the half.
After losing the lead in the third quarter, the Sixers regained it in the fourth quarter on the play of T.J. McConnell and Robert Covington, giving fans hope that they may be able to pull this one out a la Game 4 of the Miami series. The Sixers were up by 2 points with 5:39 left in the game when Brett Brown replaced Ersan Ilyasova and T.J. McConnell, who were +9 and +16, respectively, with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. The Sixers would lose the lead a little over a minute later and never regain it.
It’s not hyperbole to say that Ben Simmons had the worst game of his career tonight. He finished the game with 1 point, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, and was -23 on the night. With McConnell rolling at the end of the game, you have to wonder if the right move would be for Brett Brown to leave his backup point guard in the game instead of the surefire Rookie of the Year. He made the choice to put Simmons back in, and now we’ll all have to wonder about what could have been.
It would be remiss to talk about this game and not mention the superb game that was had by Robert Covington. He played a team-high 40 minutes and was the only starter with a positive +/-. As good as his offensive numbers were (22 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks), it was his defensive effort that was truly outstanding.
For their part, the Celtics continued to shoot well. After a slow start, the team shot 45.1% from the floor and 41.7% from the 3-point line. Terry Rozier shot 44.4% from beyond the arc, but his threes seem to come at the worst time for his opponent (us). Marcus Smart has suddenly become an efficient 3 point shooter, shooting 67% on three attempts. Jaylen Brown returned this game from his hamstring injury and added 13 points to the Celtics total.
The Sixers will come back home to Philadelphia on Saturday for Game 3 of the series. The Sixers take great pride in their home court advantage, so let’s hope that they use it and bring home a win.
As mentioned above, J.J. Redick was HOT tonight. He had the first eight points in the game and although the box score says he missed four 3-pointers, I’m convinced he made them all. He seemed to come up with a big shot every time the Sixers needed it.
Dario Saric finished the game with 14 points and 9 rebounds. At times, Saric seemed to be lacking effort, namely on this loose ball which resulted in a Jaylen Brown dunk.
WTF are you doing?! Go get the ball. pic.twitter.com/cyfoYsFdwv— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) May 4, 2018
Joel Embiid finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds. He was strong and locked in defensively at times, but lacked focus at others. There were a number of plays in which Embiid had his back to the basket, not exactly the most efficient position for rebounding.
Much will be said in the next few days about two of Brett Brown’s coaching decisions. The first, not to call a timeout in the Celtics’ 25-8 run to end the second quarter. The second, the decision to put Ben Simmons back in the game instead of T.J. McConnell.