BOSTON, MA — Josh Richardson crashed into Jaylen Brown from behind as the 76ers pressed, sending both to the ground as Jayson Tatum in-bounded the ball back out-of-bounds. Down three with 25 seconds remaining, Boston turned to the foul game and lost 115-109. The NBA later admitted Richardson committed a foul, though per usual the replay rabbit hole also revealed a bad call on Ben Simmons moments earlier.
The 7-0 run, attempting to erase the 38 points of damage Joel Embiid did, fell short and the 76ers’ revenge tour against Boston continued as they advanced to 2-0 against the C’s. The Celtics talked about the defensive scheme Philly threw at them, as Philly applauded Embiid’s response to criticism he faced this week.
Brad Stevens: “We don’t have a lot of guys who have a lot of old-school center strength, so I think he’s got it.”
Stevens walked away happy after Daniel Theis and Enes Kanter nearly matched Joel Embiid 38-36. As Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum struggled, Stevens applauded their aggressiveness and shied away from reacting to singular highs and lows in their seasons. Kanter picked up the slack, drilling most of his shots around the rim. The offense is encouraging, he said, and the defense cost Boston two straight.
Enes Kanter: “If they have a pick-and-pop guy, it’s Theis’ night. If they have a big, physical guy it’s my night.”
Kanter found space beneath the basket as the 76ers raised on Boston’s guards. He said Kemba Walker and them made his best night with the Celtics easy. It was more difficult stopping Embiid, who Kanter even encouraged during the game after facing criticism from Shaq and Barkley. Kanter contributed 20 points on 10-for-13 shooting. The inconsistent playing time, he said, works for the Celtics’ centers.
Kemba Walker: “I’ve even seen the box-and-one before which is crazy. I’ve seen it all.”
Philadelphia adjusted after Walker’s scorching 46-point night against the Pacers and hot start upon return to Boston. He worked through extra press on screens to set up big games for Kanter, Theis and Gordon Hayward on the roll. Despite the optimism through losses, Walker highlight miscommunications, focus and turnover issues Boston needs to clean up.
Gordon Hayward: “My nose is sore, but other than that I’m good.”
Hayward credited Philadelphia’s defense, which denied ball-handlers and forced him and Walker to unload the ball to cutters. Hayward returned after a nose injury without missing a game, shooting 8-for-16 with 19 points in the loss.
Philadelphia 76ers —
Brett Brown: “(Joel Embiid) was dominant and he was a leader.”
Brown praised Embiid’s response to criticism and Tobias Harris’ support, along with the roster versatility that allowed Mike Scott to fill in for Al Horford with a big performance. Spacing and early offense, he said, has been crucial to Philadelphia’s increased offensive prowess. “I hope it breeds confidence to let these guys continue to shoot the ball.”
Joel Embiid: “I like when I get criticized.”
Embiid responded to Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley calling him a good, not great, player on TNT during Philadelphia’s win over Denver. He heard it, and appreciated the call from NBA legends to reach his potential. “I haven’t been the closer that these guys have needed me to be.”
Ben Simmons: “I don’t really care what Shaq and Chuck are saying.”
Simmons was proud of Embiid’s dominance, working through turnovers and hitting late free throws to seal victory. He and Philadelphia’s defense worked to drive Boston left and Mike Scott’s presence opened up the floor for him and others.
The Garden Report —
Bob Ryan on David Stern after Stern’s medical emergency, his legacy: “he was the most fan and media-friendly commissioner.”