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Celtics edge Sixers in painful offensive performance

Not a game anyone will want to revisit.

Philadelphia 76ers v Boston Celtics Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Tired of the go-go-go offensive track meets of modern NBA basketball and longing for the Sixers-Celtics slug fests of generations ago? Maybe, Wednesday night’s game was for you. For everyone else, what took place between the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics was extremely rough. Both teams shot under 42 percent from the field, and the clubs each scoring 24 points in the final quarter was the high mark for either team.

It was fitting, then, that with the Sixers trailing Boston, 88-87, with six seconds left, the team mustered an absolute trash fire of a final possession. They struggled to inbound the ball, finally getting the ball to Tobias Harris, who stumbled outside the three-point line facing away from the basket.

Absolutely enveloped by Al Horford (LOL), Harris struggled to gain any sort of separation off the dribble, passing in desperation to Georges Niang in the corner. Niang’s shot attempt was blocked by Robert Williams, and might not have even left his hand in time if they had bothered to look at it. Game: Boston. A perfectly apropos way for the Sixers’ offense to sputter their way to defeat.

This game doesn’t deserve much more of my or anyone else’s time, so let’s knock out some quick-fire thoughts and move on with our lives.

  • Of course, Horford played tremendously well against the Sixers tonight. He finished with 10 points, shooting 2-of-3 from behind the arc, and five blocks. He mainly played the four alongside Williams or Enes Freedom (formerly Kanter). I know the numbers don’t bear it out, but part of me thinks he and Joel Embiid might have worked, and it was Ben Simmons as the non-shooting third wheel that rendered that experiment dead on arrival. I don’t want to have to think about Horford anymore.
  • Shake Milton was really good, almost single-handedly keeping the Sixers in the game in the first quarter. Milton was 5-of-5 from the field for 12 of the Sixers’ 20 points in the opening frame. He had a personal 8-0 run to end the quarter and bring the Sixers back within one at 21-20.

He finished 6-of-11 for 16 points, but wasn’t in the game at the end because head coach Doc Rivers “wanted shooting on the floor.” Go figure.

  • Seth Curry was solid, leading the team with 17 points and six assists. He hit a couple jumpers and had a terrific steal along the sideline during an early third-quarter stretch where the Sixers took the lead and looked like they might get their act together.
  • Good energy from Andre Drummond tonight, who shelved any of the head-scratching stuff, was active on the glass (three offensive rebounds, nine overall), and played excellent defense.
  • Embiid was awesome defensively as well, and you love to see the six assists, but 3-of-17 from the field just isn’t going to cut it. This game comes on the heels of his 4-of-16 outing against Orlando. I don’t know if his knee is bothering him, affecting his shot, or what. Hopefully, it’s just one of those slumps that happen from time to time.
  • Just an awful, awful Harris game, who shot 4-of-11 and constantly tried to post up, even if his superstar teammate already had terrific post position.
  • The Celtics consistently doubled Embiid using Matisse Thybulle’s man, and Thybulle didn’t make them pay at all, shooting 1-of-5 from downtown. Thybulle is obviously hugely valuable defensively, but we haven’t seen the strides on the other end. Teams exploit that weakness when they feel so inclined.
  • Tyrese Maxey shot 3-of-13 tonight and has looked totally lost since Embiid returned. It’s definitely something that needs to get figured out.

Philadelphia next takes the floor in Atlanta Friday night. The Sixers haven’t played well since the game in Denver a couple weeks ago (depending how you feel about the win over the Sacramento Kings, guess). They are 11-11 on the season.