Saturday, July 13, 2024

Celtics beat 76ers in tight contest 117-107, taking again sole possession of first place within the East


I imply, that was an superior sport. And never simply because the Celtics gained.

The Celtics got here into Wednesday night time’s rematch with the Philadelphia 76ers shorthanded, lacking two starters in Jaylen Brown and Kristaps Porzingis. However we don’t make excuses earlier than the sport even begins.

All that meant was beginning nods for Al Horford and Sam Hauser, in addition to early minutes for potential rotation guys Dalano Banton and Svi Mykhailiuk. If the Celtics have been going to succeed, somebody aside from Jayson Tatum, Derrick White, and Jrue Vacation must step up.

The first quarter appeared more likely to be a cluster with the break-glass-in-case-of-emergency rotation, however no one advised the Celtics that. They got here out firing on all cylinders, in addition to on all the opposite elements of an engine.

Banton particularly understood the task, coming in and instantly beginning making waves, grabbing rebounds like a maniac and even Grand Theft Alvarado-ing Joel Embiid in transition, resulting in a free layup for Vacation.

He additionally broke Patrick Beverly’s ankles, which was past sick. However he didn’t notice it till it was too late, and the 76ers recovered to contest his floater. However he got here thiiiiis shut to creating SportsCenter’s Prime-10, so I’m proud.

It was additionally the Vacation revenge sport, albeit two groups eliminated. Vacation was drafted by the 76ers method again in 2009, or as Tatum put it in a mic’d up second earlier than the season opener, “you previous.”

Vacation got here out swinging early, scoring 10 factors within the 1st quarter alone and furiously shoveled coal into the hype practice to tear off an 18-4 1st quarter run, taking Tyrese Maxey to the load room and torturing perimeter ball handlers.

After one, the Celtics led 37-22, an impressed begin to a sport that seemed sketchy on paper.

The 2nd quarter noticed the Sixers desperately attempt to change course, popping out in a full-court press with out Joel Embiid and going after each free ball like a pack of crazed Hyenas.

And it undoubtedly began to work, with the 76ers slowly matriculating a 10-0 run to assist reduce the result in 4 with simply over three minutes to go within the first half.

The 2nd quarter resurgence from the 76ers confirmed the difficulty with lacking Porzingis: large depth. The Celtics can’t afford to run Horford into the bottom, however with Luke Kornet holding down the paint, the 76ers felt empowered to create photographs from each angle. Guys like Robert Covington and Jaden Springer have been all of the sudden slashing like prime Derrick Rose, and the Celtics struggled to maintain tempo on the opposite finish of the ground. And all of this occurred with out Embiid, which was doubly regarding.

Coach Joe Mazzulla was probably hoping to scrape by with Kornet when Embiid rested, shadowing the reigning MVP with Horford virtually the whole sport. Large Al’s popularity as “The Embiid Stopper” is unquestionably doubtful nowadays, and Embiid muscled Horford proper out of his method just a few occasions within the first half to nice impact.

Al received him again just a few occasions within the second half, and it’s arduous to assume these guys don’t take their matchup a bit of personally nowadays. It wasn’t too way back that the 76ers signed Horford to forestall him from guarding Embiid, however I suppose what goes round comes round.

By the top of the 2nd quarter, the Celtics lead had evaporated, condensed, and precipitated again right down to earth within the type of a 58-57 deficit. Main by 15 after one was unbelievable, however discovering a solution to be trailing after two erased all the great vibes.

Apparently, the Celtics and 76ers made the very same variety of two and three-point area objectives within the first half, capturing roughly related splits from the ground save for six extra missed threes from the C’s. The rebound margin was principally equal, as have been assists, steals, and turnovers.

On stability, nothing jumped out statistically, however the actual killer was the six turnovers within the 2nd quarter alone. It was anybody’s sport, however Philly had all of the momentum.

Intermission. Go seize some snacks.

The third quarter started with a well-placed query from Brian Scalabrine about if Tatum might management the sport within the absence of his principal scoring assist, and about six seconds later, he hit a 3.

However Tatum struggled to claim himself down low early within the second half, largely due to the presence of Joel Embiid, a fearsome shot blocker and mountainous human being that adjustments the psychology of going to the rim. The Celtics responded by capturing a large quantity of threes, with over 43 p.c of their photographs being from outdoors the arc.

It’s nothing revolutionary, as Embiid tends to disregard defensive spacing in favor of holding down the restricted space, which is a reasonably efficient commerce contemplating his impact. He was tenting within the paint all night time, and the Celtics had to determine a solution to house the ground in the event that they needed to get something going offensively.

That house got here within the type of Horford triples. He hit three in a row halfway by way of the third, affording the Celtics a breath and at last opening up some type of scoring after such a stagnant 2nd quarter.

The entire 2nd and first half of the third had that queasy feeling. The wheels might fall off at any time, however at across the five-minute mark within the third, the sport stabilized. Each groups started buying and selling blows extra repeatedly, and the sport slowed down.

This coincided with a reasonably liberal allowance for contact from the referees, and with what number of scrappy position gamers every workforce dusted off, the sport felt like an old-school mud struggle. It was fairly enjoyable to look at. All of the whereas, the Celtics solely turned the ball over as soon as within the third, which was superb.

The Celtics employed a really wild lineup to shut the third, what I’ll henceforth name “Guard and the Boys.” Head chef Vacation was joined by sous cooks Mykhailiuk, Pritchard, Banton, and Kornet, they usually managed to prepare dinner up an eight-point lead.

It really wasn’t the worst factor ever, however let’s simply say I used to be not anticipating that particular lineup… ever. I’ll simply be pleasantly stunned and transfer on. Celtics up 83-75 going into the 4th.

The start of the 4th was a Derrick White decision-making masterclass. He took Vacation’s position within the Guard and the Boys set, and rapidly drew a foul to maintain issues in entrance of him. A number of possessions later, he discovered Kornet rolling to his proper and located him for a straightforward slam. A number of possessions later, he did it once more.

The Celtics started using the White-Kornet decide and roll prefer it was well-tuned sports activities automotive, and it felt like White made the correct play each single time. Kornet is a bodily restricted participant, however he has some actual dimension on Paul Reed, one thing he might exploit without cost buckets when White set him up.

In the meantime, Deanthony Melton was lighting the ground on hearth, going 5-6 from past the arc, seemingly in each impactful second. He single-handedly prevented the Celtics from operating away with it, sniping the 76ers again into the sport every time the Celtics appeared to be placing collectively a run.

However the Celtics personal game-wrecker was not about to be outdone. With round six minutes to go, White determined that it was going to be a DWhite sport. This battle was feeling increasingly more like a playoff sport, White took management of the state of affairs, ripping Embiid and hitting an enormous rhythm three to place the Celtics again up by seven. With Brown and Porzingis sidelined, White was the one who took on the problem.

Within the closing moments, the Celtics turned to their bread, butter, and jam to attempt to shut it out. Vacation introduced extra hustle than hustle-doctors beforehand thought potential, and Horford added extra big-time triples. Tatum manipulated the sport out of the submit as soon as once more, as a result of on no planet can Melton stick with Tatum on the block.

The 76ers hung round although, with Tyrese Maxey changing a circus and-one to chop the result in 5. It was an uneasy final two minutes, however an electrical problem negated three free throws for Maxey and all however sealed the sport.

All in all, it was an unbelievable sport. These groups don’t like one another, and the cities don’t both. However inside all that animosity, there may be an unbelievable quantity of respect throughout. This rivalry is the actual deal, and these groups might be battling for the foreseeable future. Signal me up for that.

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