The Boston Celtics fell to the Philadelphia 76ers again, losing by a score of 122-110. This game was eerily similar to Wednesday’s night contest, as Joel Embiid led the way for the 76ers again with 38 points and 11 rebounds. He received some help from Tobias Harris (23 PTS, 8 REB, 3 AST) and Ben Simmons, who scored 11 of his 15 points in the 4th quarter, while also dishing out 11 assists. Jaylen Brown did all he could to prevent the Celtics second straight loss, dropping an impressive 42 points while also adding 9 boards, but was unable to receive enough help from the rest of the Celtics to pull this one out.
The Celtics led at the half 52-49, but then allowed the 76ers to put up 42 points in the third quarter. The Celtics have struggled with their play in the third quarter for some time now, to the point where it’s a surprise if they actually win the third quarter. The game really got away from the C’s when Jaylen Brown was subbed off in the third, as the Celtics just fell apart on both ends of the court. Brown was the lynchpin holding the Celtics together tonight, and it was never more evident than when he was on the bench.
Aside from Brown, Marcus Smart and Kemba Walker were able to chime in with 20 and 19 points respectively. Smart has picked up some of the scoring output that’s gone missing with Jayson Tatum’s absence, but still can’t seem to find much efficiency anywhere on the court. His performance in the bubble last season gave hope that he could finally reach his offensive potential this season, but he seems to have reverted back to his old ways to start this season. Walker had a solid performance as his minutes restriction begins to get more lenient, although he only shot 1/7 from behind the arc in this one.
After that, the drop off was considerable, as no one else scored more than seven points, which is very concerning. The Celtics are going to need some production from their bench if they are going to win games, especially when they are missing a player of Tatum’s caliber. On night’s where they get nothing from their bench, the Celtics have typically found themselves on the short end of the stick at the end of the contest. Making matters worse was the fact that Payton Pritchard had to exit this one early on after Jaylen Brown pretty much fell on his leg.
Pritchard’s absence will obviously hurt the Celtics bench, as he has been one of the sparkplugs for the C’s early on. Pritchard was ruled out with a right ankle sprain and is set to have more tests run tomorrow, so the severity is currently unknown. Hopefully it’s not something serious, and Pritchard can make a quick return to action.
The Celtics now find themselves at 8-6, mired in a 3-game losing streak. With Tatum missing the last four games due to the NBA’s Health and Safety Protocols, and Kemba still being eased back into the action, the Celtics struggles are understandable. However, it is very concerning to see them struggle this much without Tatum in the lineup. The Celtics stayed with the 76ers both games despite missing Tatum, which is encouraging, but the losses still sting. Tatum seems to be ramping back up to game speed, and should be set to rejoin the team within the next couple of games.
The Celtics next matchup comes against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday at 7 PM. The Cavs are coming off back-to-back surprising wins against the new look Brooklyn Nets, with Colin Sexton leading the charge. The Cavs are a completely different team with Sexton and fellow guard Darius Garland in the lineup, and they can’t be taken lightly. The young backcourt duo of the Cavs will provide a nice challenge for Kemba and Smart defensively, so we will see if they are up to the task. With Tatum’s return potentially in the cards for this matchup, the Celtics will look to get back to their winning ways on Sunday at TD Garden.
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