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Embiid returns but nothing else goes right as Sixers get crushed in Game 2

Joel Embiid looked pretty good, but the Celtics looked like the hungrier team, crushing the Sixers and evening the series 1-1 Wednesday.

Philadelphia 76ers v Boston Celtics - Game Two Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

At least you got the split.

The Sixers are now tied at 1-1 in their series after getting destroyed, 121-87, by the Boston Celtics Wednesday night. Philly struggled mightily on the offensive end, as it shot 39 percent from the field and 20 percent from three.

Fresh off winning the MVP award, Joel Embiid returned to the lineup with 15 points and five blocks in 26 minutes of action. Jaylen Brown led all scorers with 25 points, along with three rebounds, four assists and two steals.

Here are some instant observations from Game 2.

First Quarter

  • A completely different start from the series opener in almost every sense. The two teams combined to shoot 15 free throws in the first after taking none in the first half on Monday. Expectedly, Embiid’s first shift of the night was considerably shorter, but he still appeared to be moving well early.
  • The Celtics started the game with Al Horford as their only big, playing five-out to draw Embiid out of the paint, but they were much more effective in stopping Philly’s offense with Robert Williams on the floor. The lone player in a groove offensively was Jaylen Brown, who had 13 in the opening quarter on 5-of-6 shooting.
  • A real tough momentum swing in the last 40 seconds of the quarter, as a loose ball that was nearly stolen by Tyrese Maxey fell to Marcus Smart who buried a three. This pushed Boston’s lead to six after a tight first quarter.

Second Quarter

  • So many of the Sixers’ three-point looks come from Embiid turning defenses inside out, so those were much harder to come by. They weren’t falling either, as Philly shot 1 of 13 from deep in the first half. Its ball movement was almost non-existent. The Sixers had only five assists as a team in the first half.
  • Embiid’s 13 points felt quiet, especially because he recorded five blocks before the halfway point of the second.
  • Another quarter where the Celtics come up with the back-breaking momentum play when Georges Niang was passed a hot potato with four seconds on the shot clock. Instead of hoisting a three or swinging to the corner, Niang got a floater blocked by Marcus Smart. The Sixers found themselves down eight at the break.

Third Quarter

  • The second half begun much like the game did, with another hot streak from Jaylen Brown. He was hunting Maxey on the switch, but didn’t have much of a problem getting past Tucker either.
  • It felt like there was a lot going on to keep the Sixers in the game, but they just couldn’t take advantage of it. Tatum picked up his fourth foul, and Horford continued to launch threes not particularly close to going on, but Boston’s lead only grew.
  • There was the faintest sign of life, as Philly reeled off five points out of a timeout, but it would be extremely short-lived. The Celtics caught fire, making seven three-pointers in the third quarter, taking a 27-point lead into the fourth quarter.

Fourth Quarter

  • Jaden Springer checking into this game two minutes into the fourth is just how everyone wanted this one to go. Doc punting on the fourth quarter was pretty much a no-brainer.
  • The common take floating around that “Embiid should’ve just sat this game” bugs me for a couple of reasons. Embiid is a player who needs time to ramp up into game shape. Just getting up and down the floor in a live game will probably be a big help to him come Game 3. And while it clearly wasn't their night, a chance at getting a 2-0 series lead was worth it.
  • As ugly as tonight got, the Sixers have to be happy with the series tied up at 1-1 heading back to Philadelphia. Game 3 will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Friday night from the Wells Fargo Center.

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