Posted on January 18, 2018, by Travis Pulver
Boston Celtic head coach Brad Stevens probably went into Thursday night’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers hoping his team wouldn’t miss Kyrie Irving too much. He probably hoped that the cumulative efforts of the rest of the team would be good enough to win the game. After all, it’s not like the team is made up of Irving and a bunch of scrubs.
As it turns out, they played nothing like you’d expect a team leading the Eastern Conference would play. You could even say they looked like a bunch of scrubs.
While the Celtics did get out to an early lead (8-2), poor shooting in the first quarter and seven turnovers helped the 76ers gain a 21-19 advantage heading into the second quarter—where it got even uglier. Boston continued to struggle with making shots. Turnovers were rampant as the Celtics only scored 13 points.
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But luckily, the 76ers were not playing well either and they were only behind by seven at the half, 39-32.
Had they gotten their game on track in the second half, the Celtics could have easily taken control of the game. But, instead, the struggles continued. Joel Embiid scored ten in the third quarter to help the 76ers take a 71-53 lead after three.
For a brief moment in the fourth, it looked like the Celtics might mount a comeback. An 11-2 rally brought them within seven, 86-79, after Jayson Tatum hit a three-pointer with 2:01 left to play. But the offense stalled for both teams for the remainder of the game. The 76ers made three free throws while the Celtics made just one to make the final score 89-80, Philadelphia.
Joel Embiid led the way for the 76ers with 26 points and 16 rebounds followed by Dario Saric’s 16-points. T.J. McConnel led the way off the bench with 15. For the Celtics, Al Horford and Marcus Morris led the way with 14 points each.
The game was dramatically different compared to the last time these two teams played (last week in London). But when a team’s best player is out, it affects everyone. Luckily, it doesn’t sound like the Celtics should be without Irving for long (ESPN):
“Structurally, everything is good in my shoulder and I’m [going to] do what’s best, take a few days to strengthen it up even more and then try to give it a go Sunday. … Just precautionary stuff and just making sure everything is alright from a strength perspective.”
An MRI on his shoulder came back negative. But since he as experiencing some soreness in his shoulder, the team decided to err on the side of caution. Irving hopes he can play Sunday when the team faces the Magic.
It wouldn’t be shocking if they gave him another day off just to be on the safe side.
As for the 76ers, the win pushes their overall record (21-20) and road record (11-10) above .500. They’ll try to stay above .500 when the Milwaukee Bucks come to town Saturday.