Although the hype revolving around the young core of the Philadelphia 76ers is a legit threat, tonight’s matchup against the C’s entailed the good and the bad of this young Sixers team along with the previous 0-2 Celtics. A 102-92 victory for Brad Stevens and company is a much needed win for this early struggling team while dealing with numerous injuries.
An ugly game statistically, both teams had the struggles of maintaining solid possession, referees chalking up fouls left and right. A combined 55 fouls were assessed, Sixers forward Robert Covington was the only one who fouled out with 6 personal.
For Philadelphia, a strong start led to a break in between but eventually regrouping throughout the fourth quarter, but the late Boston run sealed the deal at home for the excited 76ers fan base. Eleven year veteran JJ Redick, the former Duke University sharpshooter, agreed to a 1 year deal worth 23 million dollar with the surging Sixers this past offseason and he did not disappoint tonight in the Philadelphia home opener. Leading the team with 19 points, Redick was outrageously accurate in transition shooting. Burying 4 three pointers out of 7 attempts while only going 7/16 from the field, Redick did not have a fantastic night, but stepped up to make big plays. Fan favorite center Joel Embiid worked the paint in his 28 minute show, putting up 11 points and 14 rebounds. All around forward and guard Ben Simmons was the mismatch nightmare the C’s simply could not try to cover, allowing the 6’10 athletic specimen to grab 11 rebounds but shut him down for offensive efficiency, scoring 11 points on 4/11 shooting.
The Celtics had lots of issues going into this game, but the problems against the Sixers will certainly be pointed out in their long break before the next game, which is Tuesday the 24th against the Knicks. Coach Stevens made one critical adjustment to the starting rotation, adding the Aussie big man Aron Baynes to play along side center Al Horford and essentially make life harder for Joel Embiid. Baynes played a mere 14 minutes but gathered 10 points and 8 rebounds, many were on efficient tip ins which not only kept Celtics possessions alive, but helped them crawl out of the deficit. Four of the five starters for the Celtics tonight had eight or more rebounds, a tremendous accomplishment for this struggling team. Guard Kyrie Irving led the way for the C’s with 21 points while Al Horford (17), Jayson Tatum once again (15) and the reliable Terry Rozier (14) all played significant roles, especially Rozier. Coming off the bench as the #2 point guard, the absence of Marcus Smart gave a bigger chunk of time to the elite athlete Rozier is, scoring 14 points while grabbing an impressive 7 rebounds for a guy who’s only 6’2. One rebound in particular was during the first half, when Rozier out jumped 6’10 Ben Simmons for a defensive rebound, catching the attention of broadcaster Mike Gorman, as he briefly mentioned the athletic effort.
A back and forth matchup, this game was an ugly one to watch from a statistics standpoint, but nonetheless, a physical matchup in which the C’s needed to take advantage of, and won.