The Sixers are about to tip-off what very well might be the most pivotal game of this seven-game series. After splitting their homestand, the series will shift back to Boston to determine who takes control moving forward.
The Boston Celtics have done a lot of things well, but there’s a good chance we’ll see some slight adjustments for Game 5. One of the biggest storylines has been their (lack of) usage for Jaylen Brown in the second half. We’ve seen Brown get off to scorching starts nearly every game, just to fade away in the second half. He’s been their best player for this series, so it’ll be interesting to see if they make more of an effort to get him touches down the stretch.
"I guess I got to demand the ball a little bit more."— NBACentral (@TheNBACentral) May 8, 2023
- Jaylen Brown
Another area to watch will be the Celtics’ rotation. The Sixers trimmed their rotation down to just eight players for Game 4, and it’s expected that both teams will continue to trend down as time goes on. The Celtics have a deep roster, with their guard rotation being the key area to watch. Malcolm Brogdon has provided their bench with much-needed offensive juice, while Derrick White has been key in keeping Tyrese Maxey in check on the defensive end. Balancing out those minutes will be something to monitor, as James Harden had success against Brogdon in Games 1 and 4.
On the Sixers side, the main variable in their possible success hinges largely on production outside of Joel Embiid. We’ve seen a huge gap in Harden’s production throughout the series, and it’s unclear which version of him we’ll get — the one scoring 40-plus points or the one struggling to do anything. The Sixers need him to be at least half of what he was in Game 4 to be in a good spot.
Outside of the Sixers’ stars, they’ll need at least one of Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris to step up. Maxey has yet to find any offensive consistency in this series, shooting 36.6 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from three through four games. Harris has been better, but is only averaging 12.5 points on 47.7 percent shooting. If either can step up, it would give this team a huge boost it hasn’t had for this series.
Then there’s Embiid, who struggled down the stretch of Game 4. The Sixers will have to manage his minutes throughout, as three minutes of rest during the second half simply wasn’t enough for crunch time, let alone overtime. The key guys should see upwards of 40 minutes a game, but it’s possible the Sixers might look to small stretches of rest throughout the quarter to keep their guys fresh.
We saw the Sixers take control early in Game 4, which provided just enough cushion to walk away with a victory. Slow starts plagued them for the first few games, and they’ll need another strong start to take this decisive game. It’s now a best-of-three series moving forward, and the Sixers need to win at least once in Boston to advance. Let’s see if the Sixers can take a commanding series lead.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Boston Celtics
When: 7:30 pm EST
Where: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic