Posted on May 1, 2018, by Travis Pulver
No matter how the season ends for the Philadelphia 76ers, it is safe to say that the ‘Process’ has paid off. The 76ers have a young, talented roster that is only going to get better in the years to come. However, while they are a very good team right now, they may not be ready to run with the big dogs just yet.
They gave the Boston Celtics a good fight in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals Monday night. But in the end, they lost, 117-101.
The game started out relatively close. Neither team looked especially good in the first quarter and failed to capitalize on opportunities the other provided. However, heading into the second quarter, it was Boston in front, 25-22.
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Things remained tight in the second until about midway through the period. That is, until the Celtics opened things up with a 10-0 run, eight of which came from Al Horford. Boston was able to maintain their advantage, and when the half came to a close, the Celtics were up 56-45.
It didn’t get any better for the 76ers in the third quarter. Boston controlled the quarter and managed to extend their lead to 17-points, 87-70, with 40.9 seconds left in the quarter. But a pair of baskets by J.J. Reddick cut the deficit to 12-points, 87-75, heading into the fourth.
Boston’s momentum carried into the fourth as they easily closed out the game. The Celtics defense was simply too much for the 76ers. With Boston’s playmakers making shots and making life hard for Philly’s playmakers, the outcome was never in doubt.
It is just the second loss the 76ers have suffered since March 13. They had plenty of time to prepare having eliminated the Miami Heat almost a week ago. But they looked far from ready to play. You will not win many playoff games when you start out by missing 15 of your first 20 shots.
After the game, Joel Embiid didn’t beat around the bush (via ESPN): “We’re NBA players, and we have to be ready. We weren’t ready tonight.”
Embiid led the way for the 76ers with a double-double, 31 points and 13 rebounds followed by J.J. Reddick with 20. Ben Simmons chipped in another 18 points and seven rebounds, but he also had seven turnovers.
While Boston has grown accustomed to playing without two of their superstars, they were forced to do without another star player Monday night, Jaylen Brown. But much like they have done all season, guys stepped up.
Terry Rozier caught fire from behind the arc (7-9) and led the team with 29 points. Jayson Tatum had 28 points, and Al Horford chipped in 26.
“It’s been great to see Jayson and Terry and just our guys play like that,” Horford said after the game (via ESPN). “I think that Jayson’s starting to figure it out. … And it’s great to see for our team.”
It remains to be seen if Jaylen Brown will be able to play in Game Two Thursday night. While the Celtics got by without him in Game One, if he can play, the Celtics will have a much better shot at going up 2-0 when the series moves to Philadelphia.