Sixers’ struggles continue after latest beatdown by Boston

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Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown, right, drives to the basket past Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (9) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

After wrapping up their four-game home streak Sunday against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Philadelphia 76ers traveled to Boston Tuesday night to face the Celtics. The Sixers, clinging to the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, came into the night hoping to overcome the odds and regain some of the ground they’ve lost since Joel Embiid’s meniscus surgery.

In the other corner, the Celtics came into the night winners of eight straight, and boasting the best record in the league. As poorly as things have gone recently for the Sixers, the opposite has been true for their Boston counterpart. Proving to be among the elite teams during this regular season, the Celtics had no interest in making tonight easy for Philadelphia.

The Sixers kept things interesting for the most part, at least through the first half, but thanks to large performances in the third and fourth quarters by Kristaps Porzingis and Jayson Tatum, Philadelphia found themselves on the losing end of a 99-117 outcome.

Tyrese Maxey led the way once again for Philadelphia, scoring 322 points

The Sixers cannot live on Tyrese Maxey alone

Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey (0) scores against the Atlanta Hawks during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Without Joel Embiid in their lineup, the Sixers are a vastly different team. Tyrese Maxey slides up from the team’s secondary scorer to their primary by default, and to his credit, he has looked the part more often than not this season.

Maxey deserves praise for his improvements as a scorer, as a point guard, as a defender, and as a leader. but one area he has improved in cannot be overstated, that being his improvements against the Boston Celtics.

Over the first ten regular season matchups of his career against the Celtics, Tyrese Maxey averaged a measley 8.2 points, 2.5 reboudns, and 1.6 assists per game. This season, Maxey and the Sixers have faced their Bostonian nemesis three times. In those games, Maxey has averaged 25.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 4.7 assists. Those improvements are certainly encouraging, particularly considering the potential playoff applications, but there’s one issue still at hand.

Tyrese Maxey’s improvements cannot overcome a lack of support from his teammates.

Maxey’s 32 points paced the Sixers tonight in scoring, while his fellow starters combined for just 22 points on 22 percent shooting. Philadelphia has no shot of winning anything, let alone a championship, with such a weak performance from their starting lineup.

Yes, Joel Embiid is still out and his potential return will make a mountain of a difference, but the Sixers cannot sit idley by waiting for that day to come. Players like Tobias Harris, or Buddy Hield—who has notabley had a much shoorter rope to work with as of late—have to step up in these situations to hel secure the team’s spot in the standings.

With Embiid out likely another month, and the recent news on De’Anthony Melton, the Sixers veterans from Harris to Hield, and Batum to Reed, have no choice but to sink or swim as Tyrese Maxey, for all he does well, can only do so much.

De’Anthony Melton reinjured back

Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis, right, drives past Philadelphia 76ers guard De’Anthony Melton (8) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Far worse than the loss, was the loss within the game; that being De’Anthony Melton going down after reinjuring his back early in Tuesday night’s game.

The Philadelphia Inquier’s Gina Mizell reported that head coach Nick Nurse confirmed that the injury Melton suffered in this game is the same issue that previously kept him out.

Certainly far from ideal for both Melton and the Sixers. Hopefully, the injury is not as severe this time around, and Melton can return to action sooner rather than later.

Ricky Council IV continues to impress

Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis (8) tries to block a shot by Philadelphia 76ers guard Ricky Council IV (16) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Ricky Council IV, Philadelphia’s 2023 undrafted rookie, once again was a standout for the Sixers scoring 16 points in 19 minutes of action. Council was energetic and physical as always, exhibiting a sense of urgency that hardly any other Sixers came close to matching.

No matter the situation, the quarter, the score, Council fights each and every second he touches the floor for the Sixers. He had previously gone through a bit of a dryspell recently in terms of minutes played, but once again, when given the opportunity, he delivered for Philadelphia; proving to be one of the more reliable players on this roster despite his undrafted rookie status.

What can be said at this point other than the Sixers must sign Ricky Council IV to a multi-year NBA contract immediately.

Up next for the Sixers

Charlotte Hornets forward Brandon Miller (24) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard De’Anthony Melton (8) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)