The Sixers have a 3-2 series lead in a second round series.
(We’ll give you a moment to digest that.)
Joel Embiid looked like his MVP self and the Sixers took down the Celtics, 115-103, in Boston Tuesday. Embiid finished with 33 points and came up with four blocks.
Tyrese Maxey also had a 30-point night, shooting 50 percent from three. Tobias Harris also had his best game of the series with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Here are a few thoughts at the buzzer.
- While the open shots the Sixers generated weren’t falling, they made up for it by crashing the glass. Philly scooped up four offensive rebounds within the first five minutes of the game.
- The offense clicked into another gear after the first timeout of the game. They ran the Harden-Embiid pick-and-roll every time down the floor until Harden subbed out to great success.
- Easily the most encouraging sign for the Sixers however was Maxey’s 11 points. His struggles have been well documented in this series, but he came out firing with confidence. He was 3 of 4 from beyond the arc, as the Sixers held a seven-point lead after one.
- Doc Rivers mentioned pregame that there could be tweaks to the rotation, and the first sign of that was real Danuel House Jr. minutes. House has only seen playoff minutes as a one possession defensive substitution to finish a quarter. He capped off a 7-0 run with a transition layup, something the Sixers have surprisingly struggled with this series.
- That run was enough for the second unit to win the minutes Embiid sat by two points. Harden rewarded Paul Reed’s hustle with some pretty tough shot making.
hey siri, play jump around by house of pain. pic.twitter.com/xQbSFx08L1— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) May 10, 2023
- Just like Maxey, Tobias Harris easily had his best offensive half of this series. Tobi shot 5 of 8, good for 12 points in the first half. Like Embiid, he was also fantastic on the glass as well. He made a point to not get outmuscled for rebounds, and he pulled down nine in the half.
- It still felt like the Sixers should have been up by more than nine at the half, given how much was going well for them. They responded well to Boston’s 10-0 run mid-quarter when Embiid begun to punish Al Horford. Still, 13 points in the second from Jayson Tatum kept it a single-digit game at the break.
- The beginning of the third was solid for Philly, but in the same uneasy way this series has been. The TD Garden sounded like a library at the start of the half but Boston kept scrapping together second-chance opportunities to keep themselves within striking distance.
- It’s about time Horford did something useful for the Sixers. Through three quarters, Horford was 0 of 7 from the field, all of those attempts coming from beyond the arc. Not only was this adding to a rough shooting night for Boston, but it forced them to put Robert Williams in single coverage on Embiid, something they’ve been avoiding all season.
- For the first time since, like, the Nets series, the Sixers ended a quarter with good momentum. Their offense stalled out every time Harden went to the bench, but Embiid and Maxey worked a solid two-man game this time to keep the lead at 16.
- Offense can come from the strangest places in the playoffs, and that was certainly true to start the fourth. The Celtics got their crowd back into the game quickly cutting the lead to 11, but it was dribble penetration from House that buoyed the Sixers’ offense. All six of his points in the second half felt massive. He also found Maxey on the wing for a three to push the lead back to 15 before Embiid checked back in.
- Just like Game 4, the Celtics were in the penalty in the fourth quarter super quickly. Between that and easing up their process on offense, they make it easier for the Celtics to get back in the game than they need to.
- For as many chances as Boston had to get back into the game, the Sixers were always able to counterpunch tonight, something they haven’t done in the past. Even the Celtics bench unit had a 9-0 run in them after the white flag had been waived. But this block was a big turning point, as another Embiid turnover leading to a Celtics basket could have easily been the start of something horrific. Instead, he got back and did this.
- Well, this series will once again head back to Philly. The x will have a chance to close out this series at the Wells Fargo Center at 7:30 p.m. ET Thursday night.