Let’s just get all of the cliches out of the way.
Take it one game at a time. (How else would one do it in the playoffs?)
Tonight is a must-win game. (Duh. The Sixers are down 3-1.)
Win or go home. (We all prefer win AND go home.)
The game we have all been waiting for happened in game 4: “The TJ McConnell Game”. As a result of McConnell’s 19 point, 7 rebound, 5 assist game, the Sixers were able to avoid being swept. Inserting McConnell into the starting lineup over Robert Covington was the right button to press.
Another adjustment the Sixers made was pivotting to a game plan that was more interior focused. The Sixers had 52 points in the paint in Game 4 — more than any of the previous games. Dario Šarić scored 25 points and had eight rebounds in his best game of this series. Joel Embiid had 15 points and 13 rebounds, and Ben Simmons poured in 19 points and 13 rebounds.
How the Sixers handle the first surge of the Celtics at TD Garden is pivotal. The crowd will be jacked. The energy will be high, and the Celtics will want to prove a point real hard, real fast.
In terms of rotations, the Celtics will be without Shane Larkin for Game 5, and that hurts Boston. Head coach Brad Stevens won’t be able to play “small” with Rozier and Larkin in the back court together — which is a wrinkle the Celtics have used when Embiid gets breathers. From as much as we’ve seen though, I would expect Stevens to have another trick up his sleve to supplement the absence of Larkin.
Brett Brown and the Sixers made a good adjustment in game four inserting TJ and doing more “inside out” work versus the other way around. Stevens will have a counter, so the Sixers better be ready for what comes.
Game Time: 8:00 pm
Announcers: TBD (Now that the Western Conference Semis are done, there may be some half decent announcers — not that I don’t mind Kevin McHale. #sarcasm)
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic