What to Watch in the Sixers’ second game vs Celtics

Joel embiid
PHILADELPHIA, PA – MAY 05: Philadelphia 76ers Center Joel Embiid (21) looks on during warmups before the Eastern Conference Semifinal Game between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers on May 05, 2018 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

The Sixers are back at it after a disappointing loss in game one against the Boston Celtics. What makes game one especially disappointing is that the Sixers had a real shot to steal the game.

Early on, they had the right philosophy and were finding offensive success but they were careless with the ball racking up 13 first-half turnovers. If not for those turnovers the Sixers likely would have taken a rather large lead into the second half. They may have even held that lead for the rest of the game.

The Sixers though strayed from the game-plan and struggled to defend leading to their loss.

The team was hard-pressed to slow down the young tandem of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown who combined for 61 points. They will have to obviously perform better against those two in tonight’s game.

Moving on to said game tonight’s match-up to watch is one many are talking about.

Matchup of the Game

Matisse Thybulle Versus Jayson Tatum

Somebody has to stop Jayson Tatum, he can’t be allowed to go off for 30 points every night. Without Ben Simmons, the Sixers’ only hope is their impressive rookie.

Matisse Thybulle should be Tatum’s primary defender tonight as he was the only one who seemed capable of defending him.

Thybulle’s defensive numbers against Tatum have nearly gone viral and many have taken notice. Hopefully, Brett Brown is counted in that “many”.

The difference is night and day. There is no other Sixer better suited to defend Tatum than Matisse Thybulle. It’s a lot to ask of the rook but so far he’s proven himself ready.

After seeing these numbers many are calling for Thybulle to start but that’s really irrelevant. Thybulle played 33 minutes which is plenty, whether or not he starts is immaterial.

What really matters is how he’s utilized which is where Brett Brown needs to improve.

Players to Watch

Sixers – Joel Embiid

This should be obvious especially after game one but if the Sixers are going to have any chance tonight or in this series, Joel Embiid must be more aggressive.

Yes, he scored 26 points and grabbed 16 rebounds but if you look more closely at Embiid’s box score there’s some concern to notice.

Embiid only took 15 shots in the entire game, that’s entirely too few for the Star who has a clear mismatch. Embiid did well to get to the line but the strategy should be for him to shoot 20+ times and get to the line 10+ times per game.

It’s unclear why Embiid was floating around the three-point line in the second half, it may have been Brett Brown’s terrible idea or Embiid may have just tired himself out earlier in the game. One person you can’t blame though is Ben Simmons who has been blamed for this in the past.

Embiid has to do more and he’s aware.

If it was Embiid’s fault it’s up to him to fix. It would be concerning but it’s better than the alternative which would be that it was part of Brett Brown’s game-plan.

Celtics – Kemba Walker

If Brett Brown wises up, Matisse Thybulle will be guarding Jayson Tatum which means Walker will have an opportunity to go off.

If Thybulle guards Tatum, that likely means a tandem defensive effort from Josh Richardson and Shake Milton. That’s not exactly encouraging but it’s the option the team is left with.

I spoke about Walker’s offensive prowess before game one and even though he only scored 19 points those points still stand. If the defensive focus shifts to Tatum that means Walker will have more opportunity to shine.

If the Sixers are to beat the Celtics in this series they have to make Jaylen Brown and the Celtics’ bench beat them.

Sixers/Celtics Game Two

Next game mentality. It’s time for the Sixers to get right in game two and show the Celtics that they won’t fold.

Game Two tips-off tonight at 6:30 PM EST and you can watch it on TNT or NBC Sports Philadelphia. If you can’t watch or prefer to listen you can as always at 97.5 FM the Fanatic.

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire