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Sixers frustrate Celtics to get back into win column

A game after their winning streak was snapped, the Sixers used stout defense to beat the Celtics.

Boston Celtics v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

A game after coming out flat and having their winning streak snapped, the Sixers showed much more intensity Friday.

Led by Matisse Thybulle, the Sixers used an excellent defensive effort to take down the Celtics, 111-99, at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers have won eight of nine and are now 24-17 on the season.

There’s no rest for the weary as they’ll travel to Miami to take on Jimmy Butler and the Heat Saturday night. Miami is in action against Atlanta as of this posting.

Danny Green (hip) was out after being forced to leave Wednesday’s loss to Charlotte early while Shake Milton (lower back contusion) missed his fifth straight game and doesn’t sound close to returning. Ben Simmons (personal reasons) remains out, but there was still plenty of news swirling around a potential trade.

Here are a few thoughts from Friday’s game:

First quarter

  • Tyrese Maxey got the early assignment on Jaylen Brown with Thybulle drawing Jayson Tatum. Maxey picked Brown’s pocket on his first touch. Tatum committed two early fouls, but neither of the “J’s” got off to a good start thanks to the Sixers’ defense. They forced eight Boston turnovers, including four from Tatum.
  • Of course Al Horford scored the Celtics’ first five points, but he didn’t enjoy the success he usually has with Joel Embiid defensively. Embiid had eight points and four assists in the first quarter, including one beaut to Thybulle on a cut yet again.
  • OK, we’ve got a little juice tonight! Thybulle was everywhere defensively and former Sixer Josh Richardson wasn’t pleased after Thybulle picked his pocket. Richardson committed a hard foul on the ensuing fast break and Thybulle took exception. The two had to be separated. When the dust settled, Richardson picked up a flagrant one and the players were each assessed a technical.
  • An outstanding quarter from Maxey overall, as the second-year guard hit a pair of threes and had a beautiful reverse finish toward the end of the quarter. He also had eight points.
  • The Sixers used a 22-2 run to build a lead as large as 20. They took a 32-14 advantage into the second. It was good to see the Sixers have active hands and push the ball in transition.

Second quarter

  • Nice run to start the quarter with a unit of Maxey and Tobias Harris, who’s up to 11 points, with three reserves. Tatum’s frustrations continued and he was slapped with a T. Payton Pritchard gave the Celtics a little juice, but the Sixers kept their momentum, maintaining a 46-27 lead with 5:38 left in the second.
  • Boston went to a zone when Embiid checked back in the game. It did appear to stymie the Sixers’ offense a bit. The Sixers didn’t get off to a great start from three (4 of 15) which did not help. Embiid hitting shots like this helped though.
  • It does appear like Embiid has a little something extra for Horford tonight. Just ripped the ball away from Horford and drew a foul. Then Jo had a little glare for his former teammate.
  • The Sixers continued getting deflections and creating transition opportunities. Boston is up to 11 turnovers and the Sixers have nine fast-break points. It’s been a balanced offensive effort tonight with Harris (11), Embiid (10) and Maxey (10) all in double-digits. Embiid also has eight rebounds and four assists. The Sixers took a 55-35 lead into the locker room.

Third quarter

  • Celtics starting the second half in zone. The Sixers’ offense still hasn’t looked great, but they’re doing enough — and the defense has still been excellent — to maintain their advantage.
  • Kind of an iffy play with Dennis Schroder giving Thybulle a nudge on the backside as Thybulle was finishing off one of his “pick-sixes.” Thybulle was going full speed, and though the contact from Schroder was slight, it caused the Sixers’ wing to land awkwardly. The veteran guard was called for a flagrant one, which was likely the right call. There was concern after Thybulle missed both free throws, but that was erased quickly as Matisse buried a corner three. He has three steals and two blocks to go along with eight points.
  • The ball movement was a little better against the zone, but defense was the biggest reason the Sixers were still up big. The “J’s” were a combined 12 of 32 with 10 turnovers through three, despite both guys getting going a bit late in the third.
  • Oh man, Maxey had been quiet in the second half, but he had another unreal finish to close the third.
  • Embiid being awesome (22 points) has covered some things on offense (evergreen observation), but the Sixers withstood a Boston run and went into the fourth with an 83-66 lead. Again, threes have been an issue (8 of 28). They could’ve already buried the Celtics with a couple more makes from beyond.

Fourth quarter

  • The Sixers staying competitive during Andre Drummond minutes is good — and the veteran center was solid Friday night — but the night was a prime example of why the Sixers could use a stretch big to back up Embiid. You can’t play Drummond and Thybulle together offensively, which means the Sixers can’t use their best perimeter defender. Not ideal when you’re dealing with a team with multiple perimeter threats like the Celtics.
  • Wow, a pair of Maxey threes and he’s up to four triples on the night. The development of his three-point shot has been awesome to see. He’s such a dangerous player when you couple that shooting with his ability to drive and finish. He’s up to 20 points.
  • Thybulle was forced to miss the fourth quarter with right shoulder soreness, most likely stemming from his fall earlier. With a big lead, let’s hope it’s precautionary. He finished with eight points, five steals and two blocks. Tatum was just 7 of 17 on the night, with Thybulle defending him most of the night.
  • And another three for Maxey, tying a career-high with five.
  • And Embiid just tried to end Aaron Nesmith’s career on a dunk attempt. That man has a family, Joel. Embiid is called for the charge and it seems like the right call, probably.
  • Embiid will fall five points short of breaking a franchise record of 10 straight 30-point games. I’m sure he’ll trade that for a wire-to-wire win over a rival. He was still great with 25 points, 13 rebounds and six assists. Maxey finished with 23 points, five assists and zero turnovers. The duo has scored 20 points in the same game three times — all three were Sixers’ wins.