What we learned in Sixers’ embarrassing loss to Celtics


Joel Embiid and the Sixers wasted a golden opportunity tonight. The team had the chance to finish the regular season undefeated against the Boston Celtics. It would been the first time since the 2000-2001 season that the Sixers had swept the Celtics but now they will have to wait at least another year.

Most of the Sixers had trouble getting shots to fall and the defense team-wide was horrendous. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown had their way with the Sixers combining for 57 points. There seemed to be no way to slow them down and they powered the Celtics to victory without Kemba Walker. Daniel Theis also played a key role looking like Ben Wallace against an out of sorts Embiid. There were so many issues for the Sixers tonight you can’t point at just one area.

Where it Went Wrong

Return of the Zone

Celtics coach Brad Stevens broke out is infamous zone defense again tonight and the Sixers struggled early and often. Whatever the reason, Sixers Head Coach Brown and his players can’t adapt to playing the zone, one explanation could be the team’s lack of shooting. Without proper spacing of shooting the Sixers are suffocating against the Boston zone, no Sixers can make an open shot and Brett Brown has an apparent aversion to running a proper pick and role.

Obviously, the players are the ones playing and they should be held responsible but so should the coach, especially when this is such a reoccurring issue. Brett Brown has never been the top X’s and O’s guy in the NBA but he needs to be able to offer in-game coaching otherwise why is he there.

The Embiid/Horford Experiment

The time has come for the Embiid/Horford experiment to end. The two Centers cannot play together especially in today’s NBA. There was a time when Al Horford was a Power Forward but that time has long since passed. Horford is purely a Center now and it’s very hard to succeed starting two Centers in the league today.

There are two options solutions: First, Brett Brown could bench Horford giving the Sixers a legitimate back-up Center while also allowing more shooters to enter the lineup. Second, Elton Brand should be monitoring the trade market to see if there is any way to move Horford. Some fans want a Joel Embiid trade to be considered but that is foolish. Instead, Elton should be looking to move Horford for one or a couple of Guards and/or Forwards. Danillo Gallinari has been mentioned but the motivation may not be there for the Thunder.

One way or another this needs to be resolved and the Sixers need to add pieces to save this season.

It’s Time to Make a Move

Speaking of adding pieces, the Sixers need to start making calls as the trade deadline is rapidly approaching and this team has not added a single shooter in the trade market. There is virtually no shooting on this team. The Sixers shot 7-33 from three tonight and the starters only shot 3-16. There are few holes on an NBA roster as glaring as the Sixers’ need of shooting. The team should be expecting Josh Richardson back in a week or two but he is only a 33.3% shooter from deep. The team will need to look outside the organization for shooters.

There are pieces to move and there should be few untouchables on this team as the current roster just doesn’t fit together. Many say the Sixers are built for the playoffs but how many teams that can’t shoot are successful in today’s NBA playoffs? The front office will need to do all they can to add the proper pieces if they want to be competitive this year.

Up Next…

The Sixers will continue their road trip by heading down to Miami next, taking on Jimmy Butler and his squad won’t be easy but it should be hard-fought as always. Coverage begins at 7:00 PM EST with tip-off starting at 7:30.

Catch the game on NBA TV or NBC Sports Philadelphia. If you’d rather listen live you can at 97.5 FM the Fanatic.

Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports