A Sickening Sloppy Start
Although the Celtics opened the game shooting 4/5, they had four turnovers in the first five minutes. They failed to take advantage of the Sixers ice cold shooting. I like how the Celtics tried to move the ball and set up their teammates, but they have the tendency to overpass and not take what the defense is giving them.
Instead of building on the early lead, they gave the Sixers life and looked like a G-League team over the remainder of the
period half. Philly went on a 28-4 run to close the quarter, Tatum picked up two early fouls, and the Celtics shot 33 percent in the first quarter after their promising start. They didn’t get to the free throw line and seemed to extinguish any goodwill gained from their three-game win streak.
The Sixers are a team of non-athletes. Matisse Thybulle has some explosiveness and Tyrese Maxey is quick, but guys like Seth Curry, Tobias Harris, Joel Embiid, Andre Drummond, and Georges Niang have below-average NBA speed. They rank 27th in pace, and while the Celtics don’t fare much better at 25th, I was hoping they’d open the game with Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Dennis Schroeder, and Timelord trying to beat their less athletic defenders up the court.
Alas, the Celtics finished with only two first half transition points. It seems like their strategy was for the Jays to attack the undersized Curry in isolation and penetrate against the slow-footed Harris. In a nightmare first half like this one, the Boston will have to tear up the game plan and find any way to put the ball in the hoop. The silver lining to that horrendous 24 minutes of basketball? A 20-point lead doesn’t equate to an automatic victory in today’s NBA (Celtics fans are well aware).
Double Big Lineups
I don’t understand why Ime Udoka was playing Grant Williams and Enes Freedom together when the Sixers were playing Andre Drummond as the lone big. It takes away any speed advantage the Celtics might have. Georges Niang and Tobias Harris got easy cuts to the basket. Why not give Aaron Nesmith or Romeo Langford some extended minutes? Langford had an impressive block on Embiid when he finally entered the game and the Celtics were able to quell the onslaught. Why not use Grant Williams as the five? There’s no way Drummond could stay with him on the perimeter, and if Doc Rivers wants to post him up on offense, have at it. Philly maintained its 20-point lead as Embiid took an extended rest in the second quarter.