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Sixers fall to shorthanded Celtics to slip further away in standings

Boston shot 19-of-35 from behind the arc as the Sixers missed their chance to gain ground at the top of the Eastern Conference.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Sixers fell to the shorthanded Celtics, 106-99, on Wednesday night. 28 points from Joel Embiid and 26 from James Harden were not enough to overcome a scalding night from the Celtics’ three-point shooting.

Boston had some notable absences in this one. Not only has the reigning defensive player of the year missed the last seven games with a right ankle sprain, but Al Horford and Robert Williams were ruled out a couple of hours before the game.

Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.

First Quarter

  • Blake Griffin was not here for the excuses. He started off the game with nine of Boston’s first eleven points. The Sixers dared him to shoot, and he obliged, knocking down three wide-open triples to kick things off.
  • Packing the paint gave Philly some early success as they forced five turnovers in the first, but the Celtics made them pay from the outside, shooting 6 of 10 from downtown in the first.
  • Unsurprisingly, Joel Embiid had his way offensively against the shorthanded Celtics backcourt. 14 of his 28 came in the first on 6 of 8 shooting. Embiid himself has deployed the Luke Kornet Contest on numerous occasions this season, so it is not surprising he knew how to thwart it.
  • The rest of the Sixers managed only 13 points, as they trailed by three at the end of the opening frame.

Second Quarter

  • Well, Montrezl Harrell was back out there with the second unit again. Doc Rivers did seem intent on not running an entire bench lineup this half, as one of Embiid or Harris was out there with the second unit, though Matisse Thybulle picking up two fouls in a minute could have factored into this.
  • Another big hit for the Celtics just before halftime. Jaylen Brown took an inadvertent elbow to the head from Jayson Tatum, was ruled out for the rest of the game.
  • A really solid first half from James Harden, who had 13 on 5 of 8 shooting. He did a good job of getting to basket as he was 4 of 5 from inside the arc, before finally hitting a side step in the corner. The Sixers went into the break down four.

Third Quarter

  • Philly worked their way to tie the game up, but another Blake Griffin burst set Boston on an 8-0 run. Griffin had a season-high 15 points on the night as the Celtics shot 54.3 percent from three, while the Sixers shot just 33.3 percent.
  • De’Anthony Melton had quite the impactful third quarter, with seven points while being asked to guard Jayson Tatum. Despite the rest of his team, Tatum only scored 12 points on 5 of 15 shooting. Melton, like the rest of the starters, had a pretty solid offensive game, finishing with 12 points on 5 of 8 shooting.
  • The Sixers bench on the night, really struggled to produce anything on either ends of the floor. Tyrese Maxey especially seems to be in the midst of a rough slump. He had another ugly shooting night, and this was punctuated by missing four layups in one possession to end the third quarter. Philly went into the final quarter trailing by seven.

Fourth Quarter

  • If there is one play to sum up this game, it’s a Tobias Harris fast break layup getting blocked leading right into a Sam Hauser three. The most discouraging aspect of this game is not the amount of threes Boston hit, but they amount of easy threes they took. A good team having a hot shooting night is one thing, but allowing this many open looks is a recipe for disaster.
  • With the trio of Melton, Tucker, and Thybulle surrounding Harden and Embiid, the Sixers finally started to cobble together some spots. They cut the lead to three before surrendering an easy lob with only half a second left on the shot clock.
  • Embiid’s effort around the rim all night was subpar, and it really bit the Sixers on that lob. After his hot first quarter, he struggled from the field as well, shooting 5 of 13 from the field over the remaining three quarters.
  • The Sixers will head back home to take on the Knicks on Friday at 7 p.m.

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