Honestly, after the final buzzer sounded, I was annoyed. But after reflecting on the game, you really have to tip your cap and give the Boston Celtics credit for their utter dominance over the Philadelphia 76ers. Is it coaching? Is it the Celtics players? Is it both?
It’s the defensive side of the ball that gets Boston going. They’re smart and gritty on that end of the floor, thanks in large part to Al Horford, who Joel Embiid just can’t seem to figure out. Most teams throw constant double teams Embiid’s way, but that’s not the case with the Celtics. Horford is able to hold his ground on Embiid and it stagnates the Sixers’ entire offense. This is why Elton Brand went out and acquired guys like Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris. Boston plays at a slower pace and it clearly affects the Sixers. When the flow of the game slows down, you need to let those guys do their thing. That will come with time.
You did see some of that tonight, though. Butler was aggressive and he’ll need to be. When the Sixers had the ball, trailing 110-107, I thought that’s where Brett should’ve allowed Butler to iso and potentially go for the tie, but oh well. Also, the Sixers win this game if Tobias Harris doesn’t go 0-6 from downtown. The Celtics got lucky and caught a very efficient scorer on a bad night.
I was really blown back by Embiid’s comments after the game. He was asked about what Horford does to bother him so much; “I was sleepwalking for three quarters. That’s on me.”
Joel Embiid sure knows how to end a post-game presser 🙃 pic.twitter.com/k7o3Evq2Ea
— ESPN (@espn) February 13, 2019
So, the leader of the team wasn’t ready to play one of the biggest games of the year? Got it. This will get swept under the rug, however. No one likes to call out the superstar. Everyone wants to point fingers at the head coach. I do give Embiid credit for battling back in the final period, though.
As for the head coach, I kind of like his approach. He willingly admitted that he was experimenting different lineups and seeing what would work and what wouldn’t. Well, it’s safe to say Furkan Korkmaz and Boban Marjanovic do NOT work against the Celtics. So, expect to see Jonah Bolden or maybe even Justin Patton the next time these two teams face off on March 20th. But it’s also a bit of a slap in the face to Elton Brand. He got you Jonathon Simmons and James Ennis for a reason. That reason is so you don’t have to put Korkmaz on the court.
The Sixers are close. But they’re not there, yet. They have until April 10th to figure it out. Then, it’s go time.