The Boston Celtics fall to the Philadelphia 76ers 119-115 at home to start the series down 0-1.
With 76ers star and likely MVP Joel Embiid on the bench, the Celtics had an opportune moment to take advantage and get ahead of the series quickly.
But like they do most of the time, they squandered it. Just as they did against the Dejounte Murray-less Atlanta Hawks. Just as they did countless times in the regular season, this team often steps off the gas when they feel comfortable, and it always hurts them.
Up four with just under three to go, the Celtics did what they always do, stopped pressing the offense and wasted the entire shot clock just to force an iso for one of the Jays, and it did not work.
Following this, with the Celtics up one with 30 seconds to go, they had a chance to close out the game, but looked scared to shoot and put together arguably their worst possession all season resulting in a Tyrese Maxey steal and bucket, giving Philly the lead with 25 seconds to go.
After a pair of free throws from Tatum, the Celtics needed just one stop to survive game one, but Houston Harden had other plans.
Negatives of Game
While the Celtics shot extremely well, with shooting splits of 59/39/94 and got to the basket at ease, until the final two minutes, they were a disaster defensively.
Allowing Philly to shoot 51% from the field and 44% from three as a team, while also getting killed by James Harden all game.
Harden turned the clock back to his prime Houston days to the tune of 45 points and six assists on 56% shooting and 50% from three, including the game winner.
The Celtics also struggled to take care of the ball, with 16 turnovers turning into 20 76ers points. They only forced six turnovers themselves.
Positives of Game
The Celtics were able to attack the rim and get past their primary defender with ease leading to easy baskets in the paint without Embiid there to protect the rim.
They scored 40 points in the paint in the first half which was a season high in any half, for any team.
It will be interesting to see how the return of Embiid affects that. I’d expect the Celtics to go five out and let Al Horford shoot at will in the corner off drive and kick opportunities.
A poor game, especially in the final three minutes, puts the Celtics down 0-1 with Embiid coming back and homecourt back in the hands of Philadelphia.
As the saying goes though, every game counts the same. A bad loss is still just a loss, a one zero series lead is still just a one zero series lead.
While the reports say there is optimism that Embiid will return for game two, it’s not out of the possibility for the 6ers to rest him another game after securing the victory and stealing home court advantage in game one.
The Celtics will look to tie the series back up at one a piece on Wednesday night before heading back to Philly for games three and four.
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