Nothing looks like a playoff game in the early stages of the NBA season played during a pandemic, so it wouldn’t be accurate to call the Sixers’ victory over the Celtics Friday night at all in post-season style.
However, it was a high-intensity physical victory for the Sixers over Eastern Conference’s opponent, 122-110. Joel Embiid led the Sixers again with 38 points, on 11 shots, 15 and 11 rebounds.
After this mini-series swept against Boston, the Sixers are now 11-5 and first in the conference. They will play the Pistons on Saturday at 8 pm
Here are notes about their win on Friday:
Embiid’s unpleasant problem, frustration and domination
Embiid opened the match at its best, scoring five of the Sixers’ first seven points. He split up a Boston double team with a graceful pass, hit a pull jump and diverted one of his two free throws after winning a trip to the streak with a dummy pump that tricked Tristan Thompson.
Boston drew two early mistakes on Empiide, though, the second after he ventured into a pick-and-roll defense with Kimba Walker and couldn’t control the all-star keeper. Head coach Doc Rivers risked no opportunity with Embiid’s fatal problem, calling Dwight Howard to replace him with 5:34 left in the first period.
Unsurprisingly, the Sixers lost their early lead when Embiid sat down and had little purpose or apparent energy when attacking outside Shake Milton looking for opportunities to create shots. Howard was well below his best, committing twice in the first quarter and missing a chance hint of Mattis Thibaul’s mistake.
Transformations weren’t exclusively Howard’s problem as the Sixers wasted them 12 times in the first half, including five offensive fouls. Empyid III’s mistake with 1:24 left in the second quarter was one of them, and unhappy, he struck a show of water.
His frustration continued early in the third inning as he felt the referees missed several missed calls on Daniel Theiss. Rivers and Seat Sixers strongly agreed with Embiid, as he seemed to unbelievable that their star wasn’t hearing whistles. Officials may have known about Tension between Empiide and Marcus Smart over the ‘Downfall’ It aims to not reward any potential communication exaggerations.
“I feel I could have gone to the free throw line 10 more times,” Ambed said. “I knew I was going to enter the match, after they complained, I knew the management was going to be a bit tight for us, and I thought it would be better for them. Before the match I told myself and told my team-mates,“ They weren’t going to give us anything but I’m going to let them call it. I was aggressive, which caused a lot of transformations. I had a lot of games tonight. But I had to be aggressive just to make sure I scored or reached the free throw line. “
Howard was too much on several occasions in the capture defense, and he was fighting to guard behind the three-point line as the Sixers asked their older men to take a more aggressive approach. There is a tough middle ground with this style of catch-and-loop coverage between stopping ball handlers and not falling victim to their blazing speed, and Howard couldn’t find it.
Howard calculates that his play improved greatly after his initial stint. The Sixers expanded their lead at the end of the third quarter with Howard in-game and Embiid out.
Ambed said, “It was a huge business. In previous years, when I was sitting on the bench, (there was) a lot of strings lost. It’s great that when I’m in the beginning or when I’m sitting on the bench, the players on the ground are capable.” To keep up with it and really stand out. It’s a welcome sight and I love it. “
For the most part, Embiid did well to channel his negative feelings about management into assertive and controlling play. He spoke with Ben Simmons for a few minutes shortly before the start of the third quarter and also shared some words in the new “Tranquility” area late in the period, apparently wanting to make sure the two were on the same page about exactly how an attack should work. The team in the second half. With Celtics star Jayson Tatum staying out of the game after testing positive for COVID-19, Embiid won’t let the Sixers squander that game.
The Simmons produced at a very important juncture after having often worked as a facilitator during the first three quarters. Seven of his 15 points came right after the Celtics made a run in the fourth quarter, cutting the Sixers’ lead to 101-97. Simmons let in a foul, diverting a single throw and retreating into inundation from a steal.
A 25-point match from Simmons would be great, of course, but scoring it isn’t a problem at all when the Sixers play a win.
“He’s doing a lot of things for this team,” said Rivers. “His winning formula is amazing. In the last game, he didn’t get any credit and he was so important why we won this match with all the things he does – the small cuts, the little backs, the twists and the passes. Ben does a lot.
“He can’t focus on one thing, like focus on just scoring goals. He’s too good for me. It would be a waste if that was all we focused on for him. What I liked is that he went downhill tonight more and finished in the basket. That’s what he is.” He did; that’s what we’re working on. “
Curry bird is fine
Seth Curry returned to the field Friday night, and it was his first game since he tested positive for COVID-19 on January 7. Obviously, he didn’t have as much wind as usual, which is a predictable hurdle given that NBA’s health and safety protocols are imposed on any player. The one who tested positive for COVID-19 had not exercised for at least 10 days, but there was nothing wrong with his jumpsuit as he nailed his first three attempts. Finally, the Sixers 9 got off to a great 9 off the ground.
In 27 minutes, Curry scored 15 points in a 6-to-10 shooting. His outside shots and maneuvering are clearly important features of the Sixers in the big picture, as seen during the team’s 7-1 start. Realistically, it will take some time before he returns to his physical peak, although this was a completely smooth comeback.
Rivers said, “I was surprised. I couldn’t shoot. I think when you can shoot, you can shoot. I think you can take a 10-day or two-week vacation break while still taking pictures. The start of the game I was like this guy missed matches. I was surprised how good he was at shooting the ball and how good his rhythm was. “
Milton, Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz, Tyrese Maxey and Howard remained the Sixers’ second unit with Curry once again in the mix. Maxi did not score the match until 9:17 remained in the second quarter and played only six minutes. His playing during Curry’s absence clearly didn’t lead Rivers to believe he deserved an instant raise in minutes. However, a rookie is a member who does not consider Sixers rotation for the foreseeable future.
Thybulle, as it has been doing lately, put on a few eyebrow-raising defensive plays. He banned two Walker players, and impressively recovered by disabling the Celtics keeper.
Thybulle’s 21 minutes was the most of any Sixers bench player as he played the last 4 minutes 32 seconds in place of Danny Green.
Harris all-star? If he keeps filming like this …
Emped said Tobias Harris “has to be an all-star” after Wednesday’s win, and Harris once again backed that early domestic hype with 23 points in a 10-to-12 shot, a night boosting his already excellent efficiency numbers. Harris entered the evening with approximately 50/40/90 gunfire.
Simplicity was the trademark of his early season play. In the rare moments when he tried to do an advanced dribbling move or twice on Friday and didn’t create space, he mostly moved the ball to his open teammate rather than imposing anything difficult or complicated.
We keep it, Rivers said. “Same thing in Los Angeles, just quick decisions. If you catch it, shoot it. If you catch it, drive it. If you dodge it, pass it. It’s so simple for him, and when he’s in this formula, it’s unbelievable. A train is going downhill. He got a great shot.
“It’s when men hesitate and get him in when he gets himself in trouble. He’s got two tonight, but I love the way he plays, and I love the confidence he’s playing with. He’s recovering, too, this year for us. So, he’s doing a lot of things. It was amazing. “
For most of Harris’ first 13 matches this season, there wasn’t much to say about his performances. That’s a better position for the Sixers than worrying about Harris’ suitability, his role, or why he didn’t play as well as he did during his better career with Rivers and the Clippers.