Finally, it’s happened to me right in front of my face, and I just can’t hide it. I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it. Pick your song lyric.
Elation. Joy. Jubilation. Pick your emotion.
Damn, it feels good to beat this damn team.
It didn’t feel that way to begin because here’s the funny thing. It’s not easy to beat a team when you allow them to shoot 56% from the field to start the game. When you’re struggling against a team as the Sixers do against the Celtics, you have to take away some of their mental advantage.
That didn’t happen. Boston’s first points came on a Kyrie Irving three pointer followed by another, followed by a miss, then an Al Horford bucket, then a Marcus Smart three pointer. (Seriously. Marcus Smart only hits threes against the Sixers and only the Sixers.) In the first quarter, “Uncle Drew” came out and scored 16 points off 6/10 shooting in the first twelve minutes.
(Urge to kill … rising)
No one could really get going offensively for the Sixers in the first twelve. Tobias Harris did have 12 points, but he did that on 12 shots (hitting four). Joel Embiid had seven points and seven rebounds, but he wasn’t putting his stamp on the game until the end of the first and beginning of the second quarter when he had 13 straight Sixers points.
Speaking of putting a stamp on the first half … Terry Rozier.
Let’s talk about Terry Rozier. According to my statistics, Rozier is a 35% shooter from three. Against the Sixers, that percentage rises up to something like 3500%. I can safely say with full confidence that I hate Terry G.D. Rozier – especially when he goes 5/6 from the field (4/4 from three) and 14 points in the first half.
It certainly didn’t help the offensive flow that Jimmy Butler and JJ Redick were a combined 1/13 from the field in the first half.
On defense, switching defensively was just not getting the job done. The Celtics were able to abuse every matchup be it Irving getting switched on to Embiid or Horford switching on to either Ben Simmons or Harris in the first half as he had a pair of and-1 bully-ball field goals in the second quarter.
The third quarter was all about one man, though: Joel Hans Embiid. This is how it started:
Embiid vs. Smart pic.twitter.com/lb00Ooroca— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) March 21, 2019
(I don’t know how the eff Embiid got hit with a technical, either. Horford routinely does the exact same thing.)
Whatever. I’ll live with it. Marcus Smart woke up the beast inside Embiid, apparently, because he was completely out of his mind. In the third, Embiid scored 18 of the Sixers third quarter points, and the Sixers trailed by five to begin the final twelve minutes. It also didn’t hurt that the Sixers finally showed up defensively holding the Celtics to 21 points after 39 and 30 the two quarters prior.
On to the fourth, where it became “Jimmy time”. If “Playoff Jimmy Butler” is a thing, I’m happy it’s growing, now, because Butler had a clutch fourth quarter. He scored 17 of his 22 in the quarter, three of his shots from behind the arc – the third of which was just a beautiful shot in Kyrie’s eye sockets:
That’s Mr. Buckets to you.@JimmyButler | #HereTheyCome pic.twitter.com/tEkDrqAf8b— * - Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) March 21, 2019
With the Sixers clinging to a lead late in the game, Jimmy also hit this little beauty of a clutch shot:
Jimmy Buckets. DAGGER. #HereTheyCome pic.twitter.com/46tcZHRjWF— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) March 21, 2019
Butler outscored the Celtics by himself down the stretch, 12-10, and that was important considering Embiid was gassed after doing SO MUCH heavy lifting in the third quarter.
Despite Irving scoring 36. Despite Al Horford scoring 22, and despite Terry Rozier’s 20 …
The Sixers FINALLY beat the Boston Celtics after what seemed like forever.
The Sixers only shot 38% for the field. They only got eight total points from their bench, but Joel Embiid had his best game against the Celtics with 37 and 22 rebounds. Jimmy Butler was clutch down the stretch, and finally, Sixers fans, we got to #CThemFall!