The next chapter in the Sixers/Celtics rivalry unfolded tonight as the Sixers made the trip up to Boston. Former Celtic, now Sixer, Al Horford missed his much anticipated return due to a knee injury. Without Horford, the Sixers still had plenty of motivation as the bad blood between these two teams flows strong enough to make this rivalry like few others in the modern day NBA.
The Sixers, who struggle on the road, had their work cut out for them as the Celtics came in with a 10-0 record at home.
Right from the jump the Sixers had struggles defending Kemba Walker. Scoring at will, Walker had his way with Matisse Thybulle finishing the quarter with 12 points. Firing back for the Sixers was Mike Scott who was unconsciousness from three. The Sixers were digging themselves into a hole though by turning the ball over.
Walker picked up where he left of causing the Sixers nightmares. Shooting, slashing, getting to the line, Walker gave the Sixers defense fits and they needed someone to step up. The game was horribly frustrating for a basketball purist as the refs involved themselves far too often. Giving Walker free-throws just for tossing the ball up, it was hard to watch. The Sixers in spite of all this began to fight back and closed the half down by just three.
The Sixers continued to pick up their play in the second half eating away at the deficit. The surge was led by non-other than Joel Embiid. Working his classic inside out game Embiid was battling with Enes Kanter and Daniel Theis. Tobias Harris did all he could offensively to get the Sixers back in the game filling up the stat sheet in the process. With the team clicking they were able to finally take the led to finish the quarter up by one.
Finally came the heavy-weight conclusion to the game. Brad Stevens pulled out all his usual stops from double-teaming Embiid to “hack-a-Ben”. The Sixers were able to keep pace in-spite of this as Embiid dominated the fourth quarter scoring 16 of his 38 points in the fourth. Play went down to the wire as the Sixers began giving up more and more points to the Celtics and for a moment it felt as though Brett Brown was calling a timeout after every play.
The Sixers were able to seal the game with a barrage of clutch free-throws and defensive stops. Josh Richardson turned the tide when his defensive effort caused the Celtics to throw and inbound pass out of bounds. There was no better stamp though than Joel Embiid’s block of Daniel Theis that you could hear all the way in Philly from Boston. With that block, the Sixers claimed a huge win against a tough division rival.
The Sixers will return to the Wells Fargo Center tomorrow night to face off against the New Orleans Pelicans who are sadly without generational rookie Zion Williamson.
The game will still have plenty of appeal as the Pelicans are chock full of former Sixers. Jrue Holiday, JJ Reddick, Jahlil Okafor will all be returning to town in a game that nostalgic fans will enjoy. For those who want more from a match-up, the Pelicans are also featuring new star Brandon Ingram. You may remember Ingram as the second pick in the 2016 NBA draft, one spot behind Ben Simmons.
Tip-off is at 7:00 PM EST with coverage beginning at 6:30. Catch the game on NBC Sports Philadelphia or listen live at 97.5 FM The Fanatic.
Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports