Everything went right for the Boston Celtics Monday night at TD Garden as they defeated the visiting Philadelphia 76ers by a score of 117-101. The 76ers’ lengthy break while waiting for the Celtics/Bucks series to end seemed to have thrown off their rhythm as there was extreme evidence of rust throughout this game 1. There were slow defensive rotations, surprisingly poor shot selection and costly turnovers that weren’t really apparent since their incredible win streak began back in March.
“This isn’t who we are. This was a very poor game for us. I give the Celtics a lot of credit for producing that. To think this game is a reflection of what we’ve been doing the past few months would be a mistake.” Brett Brown recognized that same notion that this was a clear step back and didn’t represent the work that they had put in to prepare for this series against an incredible opponent in the Boston Celtics.
The 76ers shot 5/26 from three point land and unfortunately, they have very little chance of winning a playoff game on the road when they shoot like that. They also left 9 points at the foul line, something that is crucial when it comes to playoff time. The combination of Robert Covington/Dario Saric/Ersan Ilyasova shot 0/11 from beyond the arc.
Credit must be given when credit is due, and Al Horford, Terry Rozier and Brad Stevens deserve that credit. Al Horford shot 10/12 from the field and Terry Rozier shot 7/9 from three. Will they be able to keep up this pace with Brett Brown’s incoming adjustments? Brad Stevens deserves credit for sticking with his unorthodox game plan of keeping single-coverage on Joel Embiid to focus more on defending the three point line. Embiid got his, but it worked overall for Boston in game 1.
Despite the loss, there were some points of optimism that the 76ers can take in for the rest of the series. To start, they looked fatigued after the layoff, and don’t expect that to happen for the next games. JJ Redick got some really good looks throughout the game, and they should continue to run plays for him. Joel Embiid also had stretches where he dominated Aron Baynes and Horford and ended up shooting a solid 11/19. If they continue to keep singular coverage on him, he should be able to continue to play well. Finally, the Sixers were aggressive getting to the foul line 35 times, almost doubling the Celtics total. They just have to start making them. This is going to be a long series that could go the distance, and after last night, it’s hard to predict how this one will play out.