1-2-3-4-5-6 in a row!
The Sixers extended their winning streak and took over the best record in the Eastern Conference when they took down the Boston Celtics 106-103 Wednesday night.
Tyrese Maxey had one of, if not his best game against the Celtics in his career, putting up 25 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Joel Embiid added a team-high 27 (including a huge fadeaway late), 10 rebounds, four assists and four blocks.
Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.
- Boston started the game with an interesting look. They had Jrue Holiday as the primary defender for Joel Embiid while having a roamer on the help side. Embiid started to play like a shark who smelled blood, and the Celtics took advantage of that overaggressiveness. Embiid gave Boston three different transition opportunities in the first trying to recreate this dunk.
- It would appear that Robert Covington has leaped over Jaden Springer in the rotation, as he checked in late in the quarter along with Furkan Korkmaz. As nice as it would be for Springer to play through his growing pains here, it makes a lot more sense for Covington to be in the rotation at the moment.
- It’s not a huge shock that units with Korkmaz handling the ball didn’t hold up as well against tonight’s opponent. Picking up his own dribble and thus trapping himself in the corner on the last play of the quarter was especially rough. Philly’s offense didn’t look great early, but it didn’t help that they went 0-of-9 from deep, and they trailed by five after the first.
- Some really good minutes from the second unit to start the quarter that started with Paul Reed. He scrapped together a couple of offensive boards and put them back to spark a 9-0 run. It carried over after a timeout, as Tyrese Maxey had a chase down block(!!) on Holiday that Reed finished with a put-back dunk on the other end.
- Tonight was another stretch where Nico Batum was just doing all the little things exactly as a role player should. He relocated for a three, the Sixers first made three of the night. He crashed the weak side on an airball to get the put-back, and he did a more than adequate job being asked to guard the likes of Jayson Tatum and Kristaps Porzingis. He did appear to injure his finger contesting a Porzingis dunk and had to go to the locker room before the half was over. He returned to the game despite a pretty gnarly shot of it on the broadcast.
- The Sixers finally have the sufficient number of wings to throw at the Celtics, though now it is Porzingis who is a tricky matchup. He’s never really had a hard time scoring against Philly, and he led all scorers tonight at the half with 16 points. The depth Boston has on defense helps hides his deficiencies there as he is often their roamer.
- This was a very strong quarter from Maxey, who’s struggled against Boston perhaps more than any other team. Derrick White has always done a good job bottling him up in the half court, but Maxey’s counter was to control the pace. He was looking for the outlet to create a fast break on every missed basket or turnover, forcing Boston to try to catch up to him. He scored 12 in the second after just two points in the first, including a floater to beat the buzzer as the Sixers took a seven point lead to the half.
- The beginning the of the second half was very stop-and-start. The Celtics were either getting whistled for a foul or throwing the ball into the stands, while the Sixers opened the quarter shooting 1-of-8 from the field.
- It wasn’t quite the 29-point outburst on perfect shooting like Monday night, but the Sixers offense was kept afloat again in this quarter by pretty much Embiid himself. He was the only Sixer to score for the first 10 minutes of the quarter.
- This was certainly a quarter for defense, with the Sixers only hitting 20 points for the quarter as time expired. Philly really closed it well, holding Boston scoreless for the last 3:25 of the quarter. Embiid had two of his four blocks during this stretch, as the Sixers took a 10-point lead into the fourth.
- Boston was chipping into the lead with Embiid on the bench, but Philly had an answer this stretch, and that was Maxey’s floater. It’s so much easier for him to get to that with how scared a defense is of him taking a three. He hit his floater four different times to start the fourth.
- The Sixers’ defense was tremendous in the second half, especially with Embiid on the floor. Him checking back into the game coincided with another scoreless stretch for Boston that lasted over three minutes, allowing the Sixers to push their lead back to double digits.
- Just as things were looking about over, the Sixers tried to speed-run a collapse, allowing Boston to cut the lead to four in the span of about two minutes. The conversation about moving De’Anthony Melton to the bench is certainly going to get louder, but he definitely cannot be out there to close games playing this poorly. He missed a wide open three which could have put the game away, then turned the ball over when he got trapped, allowing an easy fast break for the Celtics.
- It’s unbelievable this fourth quarter came down to the final possession. They even gambled a bit too much, giving Porzingis an open look for three, but he came up short and the Sixers narrowly avoided disaster.
- Are you ready for the brightest basketball court you’ve seen in your life? The Sixers will head to Detroit where they’ll take on the Pistons Friday night at 7 p.m. ET. It’ll be the first in-season tournament action for the Sixers.