Since February, most Philadelphians have felt invincible. The Eagles won their first Super Bowl, the Sixers were playing amazing basketball, the Flyers gave the Penguins some problems and even the Phillies have been off to a hot start. These last 2 Sixers games have brought us back down to Earth and reminded us, we are not invincible.
After closing out Miami in 5 games, the Sixers got some time to rest as the Bucks and Celtics battled it out in seven. I, and many other Sixers fans, sat back and said “I’m not worried about either of these teams, the Bucks cant score and the Celtics don’t have enough star power.” Eventually Boston won, and the rivalry was renewed. After tip-off of game 1, it was all downhill from there. The Celtics put on quite a shooting performance, shooting 48.2% from the floor and shooting 48.6% from three, hitting 17. The Sixers did the exact opposite, shooting a whopping 19% from three (5/26). Robert Covington was missing lay ups, our bench production was little, our defense was horrendous and the only player who really showed up was Joel Embiid, putting up 31 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists. Ben Simmons didn’t play terrible but it was not that good, 18 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists, but was -21 and had 7 turnovers. Terry Rozier, on the other hand, went off for 29 points, shooting 11/18 from the field and 7/9 from three. I haven’t even mentioned that their best (healthy) player, Jaylen Brown, didn’t even play. In the end we lost 117-101, I figured “Hey we had a lot of rest, played rusty, they won’t shoot like this again, Rozier won’t go off like this again, our defense won’t be this bad again.” Sadly, I was mistaken.
After being crushed game 1, the Sixers came out hot in game 2. Up by 22 at one point the Sixers were hitting shots and playing good defense, while the Celtics were struggling to hit shots. Near the end of the second quarter the Celtics caught fire and cut the lead down to 5 going into the half. Coming out from halftime, it looked like game 1 once again. Terry Rozier wound up putting up 20 points, 7 rebounds and 9 assists, and shot 4/9 from three. Tatum also dropped 21 on us. Once again though, our defense withered and the shots stopped falling for just about everyone except JJ Reddick and Robert Covington. Joel Embiid had a solid game with 20 points and 14 rebounds, but at the end of the game, we were on defense down by 3, Al Horford had the ball being defended by Embiid, he drove to the basket and Joel basically stepped aside and let him have it. At the time Joel had 5 fouls but WHO THE HELL CARES. Foul out if you have to, do anything except let him have the points. Brett Brown not using timeouts another enigma. He let the Celtics catch heat and go on crazy runs constantly without using timeouts to slow them down. The biggest story in this game was Ben Simmons. Ben had 1 point in 31 minutes and was -21, totally unacceptable. TJ McConnell came in the game and put up 8 points, 5 assists, 0 turnovers, shot 4/4 and was +16, yet he was taken out for Ben Simmons who was obviously struggling and I don’t understand why TJ was taken out. The Sixers, once again, ended up falling 108-103. JJ Reddick put up 23 points and shot 5/9 from three and Robert Covington had 22 points, 9 rebounds shot 4/7 from three, and played good defense throughout. The effort from those two just was not enough.
Going back to Philly for game 3, and it is basically a must win game. Going down 3-0 is a death sentence. We need to play better defense consistently, take smarter shots, make easy shots, use our timeouts effectively and Ben Simmons has to show up. It’s time to Trust The Process now more then ever.