What's right with Celtics and wrong with 76'ers

Last night's 116-95 drubbing of the Philadelphia 76'ers by the Boston Celtics revealed a lot about both teams. Here are some takeaways from the game, with views from both sides of the fence.

Daniel Theis going from afterthought to indispensable

Where would would the Celtics be with Theis? With the aftereffects of his meniscus injury behind him, he has become a defensive presence and rim protector for Boston. His defensive work on Joel Embiid was masterful. Joel managed a mere 11 points for the game on 1-of-11 from the field and 0-of-4 from beyond the arc, finishing with a team-low plus/minus of -25. The rap against Embiid has been that he doesn't play hard enough, and it showed last night. He was manhandled by the undersized duo of Theis and Grant Williams.




The Philadelphis media had similar thoughts on the Embiid-Theis duel. Here are some thoughts from the Philadelphia Inquirer's David Murphy:

Give Boston big man Daniel Theis some credit. He played a heck of a defensive game, giving the Celtics a presence that they did not have the last time they faced the Sixers, a game in which Embiid scored 38 points on 12-of-21 shooting. For the most part, though, this one was on Embiid, who never looked like he knew exactly what he should be doing on the court. After that opening bucket against Theis, he was almost non-existent in the post. That’s going to be a tough way for the Sixers to win, especially on a night where their outside shots weren’t falling.

The Jay Team is making it look easy

Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum combined last night for 57 points, 12 boards, five assists and three steals. In two separate sequences, Jaylen Brown took the Sixers' Ben Simmons and Matisse Thybulle to school 1-on-1 with some dazzling moves that we never saw the past few seasons. This pair seems destined for greatness.


Gordon Hayward had a bad shooting night - which means absolutely nothing

Prior to last night, Gordon put in fine performances in the previous four games. He was due for one like this. He put up only four points on 1-of-11 from the field. The shot attempts were generally good ones that simply didn't connect. Every NBA player has these duds. It means nothing.

Let's hope Marcus Smart's groin injury is minor

Marcus Smart went down with an apparent groin injury at the 1:42 mark of the second period. He did bounce back and continued playing, but it was obvious the injury hampered him noticeably. Stay tuned for updates.

The Williams/Ojeleye/Wanamaker bench came through

The bench trio of Semi Ojeleye, Grant Williams and Brad Wanamaker accounted for 31 points and nine rebounds, shooting a combined 9-of-20 from the field, 3-of-8 on treys and 10-of-12 from the free throw line (per TV Analyst Hubie brown):

"Give the (Celtics) bench a lot of credit. They only rotated eight guys. Grant Williams, Ojeleye and Wanamaker came in and gave them 18 quick points."

The 76'ers sorely need outside shooting

The Sixers shot a horrible 36.9% from the field and 21.2% from 3-point land in last night's drubbing. Their need for at least one addition to the team that can hit from outside has been discussed at length (per Philadelphia Inquirer's David Murphy):

This was as strong an argument as the Sixers could have made that what they need more than anything at the trade deadline is a three-and-D wing.

With nine minutes left, the Sixers were somehow within 13 points of a game in which they were shooting 5-for-26 from three-point range and everybody not named Ben Simmons was shooting 18-of-58 from the floor overall. Shake Milton was 1-for-4 from deep and had missed a couple of open looks. Matisse Thybulle was 1-for-3. Mike Scott, Raul Neto and Furkan Korkmaz were a combined 1-for-9. Meanwhile, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown had combined for 46 points.

After Tatum scored 11 points in the first quarter, the Sixers did a decent job of keeping him under wraps. But there were a number of occasions when you could picture an upgrade on the wing paying significant dividends.

I have repeatedly voiced my opinion that the 76'ers are graced with loads of talent, but the construction of the team seems flawed. It starts with their lack of outside shooting and Embiid's occasional disappearing act. If Boston has a weakness it would be their lack of size - but it often doesn't seem to matter. Theis, GWill and Semi are all undersized for what they do, but they get the job done. I love Ojeleye's progression into a solid backup this season.


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