Close, but no cigar: Biggest takeaways from Sixers Christmas Day loss to Celtics

The Boston Celtics managed to spoil Christmas this Tuesday with a win over the 76ers. The 76ers used a strong 3rd quarter to position themselves to get back into the game and have a chance to win down the stretch. The loss puts the team to 22-13 on the season, 3 games back of the top seeded Raptors, and to the 4 seed in the East. Additionally, they now are only 1 game ahead of the Celtics in the competitive Atlantic Division standings.

Closing the 4th

Kyrie Irving hit a late fade away jumper to tie the game at 108 with 20.00 seconds left in the fourth. What’s puzzling is that J.J Redick took the last shot of the game. He came off a hand off screen from Ben Simmons to an unbalanced shot from the elbow. Was this the best shot? No. Decent take at best. Why wasn’t the ball given to the teams best player? Why wasn’t Embiid allowed to isolate, draw a foul, and sink a free throw? Having Joel stand in the corner was a massive waste of opportunity. He sunk 12 free throw attempts and was bullying Al Horford all night. He wants to be an MVP, that is an MVP moment.

Over Time…Kyrie Time

The 76ers jumped out to a 3 point lead in OT, until Gordon Hayward finished a tough acrobatic layup to make it a 1 point game. The rest is history. Kyrie came down the next two possessions and drained back-to-back threes which sealed the game and put it out of arms reach. Kyrie was the best player on the floor when it mattered most and took over the offense. The 6ers offense consisted of fade away jumpers, missed put backs, and gross turnovers. Sometimes you play great defense, but sometimes they play better offense.

Bench Needs to Step Up

The bench was outscored 25-13 throughout the contest with Shamet leading the way with 5 points. For this bench to be effective and a threat to other team, he is going to have to lead they way. The bench shot a horrendous 3-13 from deep, didn’t attempt a single free throw, and shot an overall 26% from the field. When you play a team like Boston, that cannot happen. Also it doesn’t help when your last two first round picks are psychically/mentally unable to play. The best ability is availability.

Back Breaking Turnovers

The starting five for Philadelphia managed to have fifteen turnovers to Bostons seven. That’s eight extra possessions for Boston to get points off of, and eight possible ways for the sixers to get points. Philly’s lucky that the C’s were only able to get 5 points off of turnovers, while they themselves cashed in on 22 points off of turnovers. It also isn’t just the turnovers in general, its the timing of the turnovers that are critical to the teams outcome. In OT Butler has a T.O. at 4:06, which leads to a miss by Boston which could have put them up 4. Granted he came down and hit a jump shot the next possession, but could’ve been a 6 point game. Timing is everything.

Hack-a Simmons?

I won’t sit here and beat a dead horse about Ben Simmons lack of shooting talent. You don’t want to shoot 3’s that is fine I understand. You can get to the rim and will and finish at a high level, so be it. But to have to sit there and watch Simmons shoot 43% from the line is painful. This is a game where those free points add up. If you can’t be consistent from the line, other teams are simply going to start fouling him to earn his points like they did to Shaq and Deandre Jordan. 11 points from Ben isn’t going to win many games in May. Just look at the numbers. When he scores 26 against Toronto, he shoots 11-13 from the line, they win by 25! The little things take care of the big things.

Looking Ahead

The team continues to struggle on the road moving to 6-10 away from Wells Fargo. They head west to play a tough Jazz team who they beat earlier in the season with the addition of Jimmy Butler. The Jazz are coming off a big win vs. Portland on Christmas night and will look to continue that into Thursday. This is the start of a 4 game west coast road trip, coming out of this 2-2 would be huge. Utah, Portland, the Clippers, and Phoenix is going to show if this team can rise to the occasion, beat the team they are supposed to, and steal a game from Portland/Utah. 2-2 would be great, but 3-1 would rolling in 2019 starting a strong campaign.

 

Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

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