Celtics beat Sixers in Philly and force Game 7 in Boston – NBC10 Philadelphia

3 observations after the Sixers lost Game 6 at home to the Celtics originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Sixers failed to finalize the deal at home.

In their first chance to eliminate the Celtics and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, the team suffered a 95-86 Game 6 loss Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Joel Embiid had 26 points and 10 rebounds. Tyrese Maxey also scored 26 points.

James Harden had 13 points on 4-for-16 shooting, nine assists and seven rebounds.

Boston’s Marcus Smart scored 22 points. Jayson Tatum added 19, including four threes late in the fourth quarter.

Game 7 takes place in Boston on Sunday. Here are observations on the Sixers’ loss in Game 6:

Boston’s two-man unit is off strong

Boston changed its starting lineup, dropping a two-man lineup with Robert Williams III and Al Horford.

Head coach Doc Rivers said before the game that the Sixers anticipated the move and practiced going against that unit in the morning’s shootaround. However, this preparation did not prevent his team from falling into a hole.

Williams guarded Tucker and played a roaming role defensively. Tucker made the Celtics pay for it with his first shot, firing a three-pointer from the left corner. However, he missed a similar shot shortly after and the Sixers’ possession ended with Smart snatching the ball from Embiid. Boston got off to a great start, taking a 15-3 lead with an alley-oop slam from Williams, assisted by Tatum. Aside from Tucker’s three goals, the Sixers missed their first ten field goals.

The Sixers’ reaction to their rapid deficit was immediate and impressive. Across the board, the team attacked the paint once Williams was substituted, taking advantage of Boston’s lack of rim protection. Maxey started a 7-0 run by intercepting a loose Brown pass and zooming in for a fast break layup. He capped it all by sinking a catch-and-shoot corner three-pointer created by a Tobias Harris offensive board and a kick-out dish. With the Sixers in need of a push, Maxey was used at both ends of the field.

The Celtics managed to get back on track and ended the first quarter with a 29-22 lead. Their lead would probably have been bigger if Jayson Tatum hadn’t fired another terrible go-ahead. The four-time All-Star had started Game 4 0-8 and started Game 5 0-6. On Thursday, he missed his first 11 field goals and scored a single point in the first half.

Boston compensated for Tatum’s ongoing initial troubles with 11 points in Malcolm Brogdon’s first quarter. Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla only fielded Brogdon and Derrick White from the bench.

Sixers shots, transition defense issues

Daniel House Jr. remained in the Sixers rotation after his death excellent game 5. With his first shot, he attempted a long jump but missed. On his second shot, House made an easier catch-and-shoot three-pointer.

However, the Sixers’ game without Embiid was poor overall. Brown and White knocked down threes early in the second quarter, while Harden wasn’t very effective in his attempts to ramp up aggression. Smart turned to attack Harden with 9:44 left in the second period, giving the 33-year-old the second foul.

Harden didn’t get any fouls in the first half, although he was confident he made enough contact on multiple drives. In general, the officials on both sides allowed a high degree of physicality. Embiid was the only sixer shooting free throws until Maxey stumbled on the foul line with 1:57 left in the second quarter.

Embiid’s re-entry in the second round had no magic effect for the Sixers. After missing a layup, Boston alternated shots and Smart shot from distance for three of the Celtics’ 16 first-half fast break points. Though the Sixers have been more diligent about their transitional defensive habits after a terrible start to the season, it was still a vulnerable area at times. The Celtics had many chances to capitalize on in the first half as the Sixers failed to convert many close-range attacks. Shortly after Embiid’s miss, Harris went for Tatum and his layup was denied. Seconds later, a smart depositor extended Boston’s lead to 44-28.

Harris, Harden and Embiid all opened 1 for 7 from the field.

Again, the Sixers did a good job fixing the game to some extent. A driving dunk from Harden got the home crowd excited, and the Sixers’ tight team defense against Tatum prompted him to complain to the umpires after a couple of no calls. Maxey hit a three with 6.8 seconds left in the second period and the Sixers were just seven points behind after a half that didn’t go to plan.

Tatum finally delivers

Early in the third quarter, the Celtics’ first unit continued to be quite effective in getting the Sixers into the shots Boston wanted.

Although PJ Tucker saved three corner kicks early in the third period, his next attempt failed. At this point, Tucker had already attempted six three-pointers, which is his most attempts in a game this season. Rivers opted to replace Tucker with a sniper less than three minutes into the third through using Georges Niang.

While Niang didn’t reverse the momentum of the game single-handedly, after Rivers’ timeout early in the third half, the Sixers upped their pace and took their chances to play in transition. Niang missed his first jump but didn’t miss his next big throw opportunity, shooting three to cut Boston’s lead to 62-60.

After the Celtics had taken a break, Niang Tatum made an isolated stop, which the fans seemed to have enjoyed at least as much as his knight. Niang is obviously far from the Sixers’ best defenseman, but he’s a fiery, competitive personality and has generally played well enough to earn minutes this postseason. Two free throws from Embiid and two from Harden put the Sixers ahead and it seemed like Boston was in serious trouble. A second-chance Niang three-pointer, created by a massive offensive rebound and a kick-out pass from De’Anthony Melton, gave the Sixers a 69-65 lead.

Of course, Embiid couldn’t play the full 48 minutes in his fifth game due to a right knee sprain, and the Sixers let Boston regain the lead with him on the bench. Paul Reed missed a layup late in the third quarter, Harden had a three-point shot and House lost control of the ball on a quick counterattack.

Right after Embiid checked back in, he managed a fadeaway jump shot over Horford. Boston varied its appearance towards Embiid but mostly trusted the 36-year-old against his former teammate. Embiid again had a relatively underperforming night as a middle-range shooter, but he excelled as both a shot blocker and defensive shot deterrent.

Unfortunately for the Sixers, Embiid, Harden and Maxey all missed a decent performance that would have extended an 83-81 lead. The team shot just 36.1 percent from the floor and 23.5 percent from three-point range in Game 6.

Tatum then broke his period of weakness with back-to-back threes. A third Tatum three-pointer extended Boston’s lead to 92-84 and left the Sixers visibly dejected.

Last but not least, he added a fourth three-pointer in the last minute.

To advance past the second round for the first time in 22 years, the Sixers need a third away win of the series against the defending Eastern Conference champions.

https://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/sports/nba/philadelphia-76ers/celtics-beat-sixers-to-force-game-7-in-boston/3564927/ Celtics beat Sixers in Philly and force Game 7 in Boston – NBC10 Philadelphia


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