That was an incredible battle between two of the best teams in the NBA.
The Sixers came up short, falling 110-107 on a Jayson Tatum three with 2.2 seconds left Saturday night. Joel Embiid made a three-quarter court heave, but it was clear he didn’t get the shot off in time.
Embiid was sensational on both ends scoring 41 points, along with 12 rebounds and five assists, but six Celtics scored double figures on the night as Jayson Tatum hit a game winning three.
Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.
- Thursday’s game-winner has appeared to do a lot for Tobias Harris’ confidence as he was very aggressive in the opening quarter. He was 5 of 7 from the field, including 2 of 3 shooting from beyond the arc as 12 of his 19 came in the first.
- P.J. Tucker was all over the glass early, as he pulled down six first-quarter rebounds, two of them coming on the offensive end. Tucker’s 11 first-half rebounds were a season-high. On top of the hustle Tucker provided, he was also 2 of 2 from downtown in the first half.
- Philly controlled most of the first as they shot 57 percent from the field and put up 30 points, but Boston fared pretty well from the field early as well. A fadeaway jumper from Robert Williams made it just a two-point Sixers lead after one.
- For the second straight game, there was no all-bench lineup. Doc Rivers said he still intended to use that group, but couldn’t against the Grizzlies due to how large a deficit they faced early in that game. Still, it feels noticeable that Rivers hasn’t gone to that lineup in these big games.
- It also didn’t take long for Rivers to throw Tucker back in the backup center spot after the second unit really struggled. The Celtics bookended the quarters with a 17-2 run.
- The days of Al Horford being Joel Embiid’s kryptonite appear to be over. The big fella scored 20 points in the first half on 6 of 11 shooting and went to the free throw line nine times. Boston wasn’t able to get any resistance without doubling as the starters re-took the lead.
make way for the big fella! pic.twitter.com/4oI14B5crr— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) February 26, 2023
- One of the few positives from the loss in Boston earlier this month was how the Sixers defended Jayson Tatum, and that continued in the first half. Tatum went into the half with four points and four turnovers on 2 of 6 shooting. The Sixers took a six-point lead into the break.
- It was another strong start to a half for Harris as he sparked a 11-2 Sixers run to start the second half, giving them a 15-point lead. De’Anthony Melton, who was scoreless in Thursday’s win and the first half tonight, finally got on the board when he got this to drop.
- Of course it was going to be Al Horford who helped the Celtics get back in the game. After going 0-3 from deep in the first half, the former Sixer went 4 for 4 on threes in the third quarter to get Boston right back in the game.
- Much like they ended the first quarter, the Celtics ended the third on an 18-3 run, putting themselves back up by two entering the fourth.
- It was not a good night for the Sixers’ big names in the backcourt. Harden and Maxey combined to shoot 9-26 on the night as the Celtics continued to surge in the minutes Embiid sat to start the fourth. Harden just had an off night, but Maxey’s woes are more troubling. He doesn’t seem to have any sort of rhythm at the moment, he’s struggling to make shots that were automatic for him last season.
- As was the case all night, Joel Embiid kept the Sixers alive singlehandedly. He put up 14 points down the stretch as he erased a 10-point Celtics lead. His trip to the line with 10 seconds left nearly sent it to overtime, but Jayson Tatum put the game away. Embiid had the second near full-court miracle of his career, as he made the heave but it was just after the buzzer expired. A brutal end to a great night for Embiid.
- The Sixers will wrap up their homestead on Monday when they take on the Miami Heat for the first time this season.