Dealing with the absence of its best offensive player, the Celtics weren’t able to generate a consistent offensive flow. In London they were able to erase a 22-point deficit against the Sixers, and drew as close as seven tonight, but weren’t able to come all the way back.
As many of us knew heading into this game, Celtics legend Jo Jo White passed away Tuesday from brain cancer. White won two championships with the Celtics(‘74 and ‘76) and was a Finals MVP(‘76) as well. His #10 jersey is hanging in the rafters, and is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame.
The Celtics honored him during a timeout in the first quarter, and you can watch the tribute below to listen to some of Tommy Heinsohn’s thoughts on the man.
Now, back to the action that took place. Boston was without Kyrie Irving in this one, as the newly named All-Star starter sat out Thursday with shoulder soreness. Irving said that he had a number of tests done on his shoulder for precautionary reasons, and that everything came back negative.
Without their primary playmaker available, the Celtics offense looked flat out atrocious. Boston committed 15 turnovers in the first half, and 19 total on the night. They also shot a less-than-stellar 24% from three, which isn’t exactly the best recipe for success in the NBA.
The Celtics only scored 32 points in the first half, shooting 15% from three and coughing up the ball on nearly every possession. Similar to the London game, Boston’s defense kept them close even though nothing was going right on the other end.
This was a really ugly game from start to finish. Boston committed an absurd amount of turnovers, but the Sixers also had 23 of their own. The difference ended up being that the Sixers had a go-to scorer to give the ball to when things got tough.
Philadelphia led by as many as 21 points, and were up 39-32 after two quarters. Joel Embiid had a strong performance with 26 points and 16 rebounds. Boston has had success keeping the talented big man in check this season, but Embiid got the better of the Celtics’ defense in this one.
The offensive woes continued into the second half for the Celtics. Ball movement wasn’t present, and it took until the 3:39 mark of the third quarter for them to attempt a free throw. Brad Stevens told TNT’s Kristen Ledlow at the start of the fourth quarter, that, “We stunk.”
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown were depended on for offense with Irving out, and both of them struggled. The two combined for 23 points on 8-22 shooting. Al Horford led the team in scoring with 14 points, but there weren’t many positives to take away from this one.
The Sixers were able to pull away in the third quarter, outscoring the Celtics 32-21. Boston made a run to cut the lead to seven at the end of the game, but Philadelphia held on to keep the Celtics from mounting another comeback.
Hopefully Irving isn’t out for long because I for one do not look forward to more games without him, as I’m sure his teammates feel the same way.
The Celtics will look to get their offense back on track as they take on the Orlando Magic at home on Sunday at 1 p.m. EST.