Doubters Proved Wrong as Undermanned Celtics Beat Sixers in Game One
By Ryan Quill
MIDDLEBORO, MA – The Celtics, without Jaylen Brown, beat the Philadelphia 76ers 117-101 in game one of the second round of the NBA Playoffs. The Celtics, who had just played a game seven in the first round two days before, defended well and threw the rested Sixers off of their game, enough to beat them by double-digits.
The Celtics were short handed in this one, as Jaylen Brown was a game-time decision with a sore right hamstring and ultimately didn’t play. Celtics Coach Brad Stevens decided to start Marcus Smart in his place, a guy who makes winning plays that don’t often end up in the statsheet. He shot 3-12, but moved the ball well and made sure to find his teammates, and did just enough in his role of filling in for the injured Jaylen.
The real star of the night had to be Terry Rozier, the third year Celtics guard starting in place for the injured Kyrie Irving. He finished with 29 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists on 11-18 shooting (7-9 from deep) and was a problem all night for Philly. He also played 34 minutes and finished with just two turnovers, capping off his efficient night. On Philly’s defensive side, their best on-ball defender, Robert Covington, guarded Rozier on 24 possessions and Rozier toasted him on 4-8 shooting and 3-4 from three.
Celtics big man Al Horford lived up to $27 million price tag in game one, as he had 2 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists on 10-12 shooting and outplayed Sixers star Joel Embiid. On the defensive end, opponents shot 6-16 against Al and led the C’s with an overall net rating of +27.7. He also contested a total of 15 shots and came up huge in the 4th quarter with some clutch makes.
Another pivotal player in this one was the Celtics true rookie in Jayson Tatum. He ended the night off with 28 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists on 50% shooting. He went up against Sixers rookie Ben Simmons, and Simmons just couldn’t contain Tatum. He guarded Jayson on 9 possessions and gave up 50% shooting. JJ Redick, instead, guarded Tatum on a total of 23 possessions and by looking at the box score, that obviously didn’t work out for Philadelphia.
The Celtics were mainly led by Rozier, Horford and Tatum in this one, but as a team, shot 48% from the field, and 49% from three. They were also 18-19 on free throws and had 5 more assists than the Sixers. They were still able to come out with the win, even though Philly had 9 more rebounds than the C’s and 6 more offensive rebounds, which only led to just 18 second chance points for the Sixers.
The Sixers were led by big man Joel Embiid, who finished with 31 points and 13 rebounds, but no one else on the team really performed well enough to combat the Celtics shooting. The Sixers shot 42% from the field, but an abysmal 5-26 from deep, at 19% shooting. They also only shot 74% from the free throw line and had more turnovers than the Celtics.
Both teams now turn their attention to game two in Boston on Thursday, May 3, 2018. Jaylen Brown is expected to be back in this one for the Celtics, and we all expect the Sixers to shoot better in this game this time around. The starting lineup for the Celtics is expected to be guards Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown, forward Jayson Tatum, and big men Al Horford and Aron Baynes. The Sixers are expected to roll out Ben Simmons at point guard, JJ Redick at shooting guard, Robert Covington at small forward, Dario Saric at power forward and Joel Embiid at center. The game will be at 8:30 PM ET on TNT, as the Celtics look to take a 2-0 series lead and the Sixers look to bounce back and steal a game on the Celtics home court.