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Sixers come up small down the stretch, drop Game 6 and will head to Boston for Game 7

The Sixers’ offense sputtered down the stretch as Jayson Tatum warmed up and now it’s up to Boston for Game 7.

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

We’ll do it one more time.

The Sixers failed to close out the series on their home court when they dropped Game 6, 95-86, to the Boston Celtics Thursday night.

Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey led all scorers with 26 points apiece, but the offense fell apart late.

Despite struggling all night, Jayson Tatum came alive in the fourth quarter to bury the Sixers.

Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.

First Quarter

  • A really sloppy start for the Sixers’ offense that was highlighted by Embiid’s play. The big fella missed a transition layup, then gave Boston a transition take foul when he was stripped by Marcus Smart on the next possession. The 1 of 11 start from the field put this crowd on edge early.
  • Philly had a much easier time of getting to the rim almost as soon as Robert Williams checked out of the game. Embiid got Al Horford in drop coverage and was able to dust him with a pump fake.
  • Unsurprisingly after his Game 5 performance, Danuel House Jr. was back in the rotation, checking in towards the end of the first quarter. While he missed his patented step-back corner three, he was 1 of 2 from downtown in the first. The Celtics however, were 6 of 9 as a team from deep, holding a seven-point lead after one.

Second Quarter

  • An 8-2 Celtics run had Doc Rivers switching things up. He opted to go small with Tucker at center after only a minute and a half of Paul Reed. Despite the tinkering, Philly’s offense started off just as bad in the second.
  • While the entire offense was ugly early, Embiid and Harden combined to go 6 of 19, Tobias Harris’s struggles felt especially pronounced. He shot 1 of 7 in the half, with most of his attempts at the rim feeling downright uncompetitive.
  • This dunk from Harden was a turning point in the quarter
  • It awoke a crowd that had already turned on the Sixers, but the team was able to get that energy back and cut the lead to single digits. Another horrendous half from Jayson Tatum helped as well; he was 0 of 10 from the field as the lead remained at seven.

Third Quarter

  • P.J. Tucker did his best to punish the Celtics for roaming off him. Through the first 27 minutes of the game, he was 3 of 7 from the field, but that extra space made it easy for Horford to close in on Embiid. Rivers’ counter to this was pretty clever, as any time he’s subbed Georges Niang in this series, Boston has taken Williams off the floor.
  • It’s not just that Embiid has been a great rim protector this series, his ability to keep the ball in-bounds has done wonders for this team’s transition offense. This block which resulted in a corner three for the Sixers was another huge momentum shift.
  • A lot of people, myself very much included, were extremely skeptical about Niang’s ability to hang on the floor in this series, and he deserves credit for holding his own. Not only has his shooting been helpful, but he hasn’t been a liability on defense either. He even locked up Tatum on a possession in the third quarter.
  • It wouldn’t have been a quarter the Sixers won in this series if it didn’t feel slightly bad at the end of it. They could have easily ended the quarter with a five- or six-point lead, but led by just two because of some missed layups.

Fourth Quarter

  • It wasn’t Reed’s best game, but it’s still encouraging to see Rivers go back to him in the second half after early struggles. That hasn’t always been the case. Still, they waited just a minute and a half to bring Embiid back into the game.
  • Another Sixer who has done a much better job than expected defensively is Maxey. Getting him on a switch hasn’t been an easy basket the way it used to be. He had three steals tonight, including one that forced Tatum to commit a clear-path foul.
  • Three full possessions happened between Embiid making the clear-path free throws, and the refs realizing that it was supposed to be Maxey who shot those free throws. Complaining about refs is lame, but I can’t think of something better to sum up this season of officiating.
  • Philly’s offense wasn’t great all night, but they hit a wall at the worst possible time. Their pace only got slower as their shots continued to rim out. They were held without a field goal for the last six minutes of the game until Rivers emptied his bench.
  • Just like the Raptors series in 2019, Game 7 of this series will take place on Mother’s Day. The time of the tip off has yet to be announced, but it will take place Sunday in Boston.

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