It ain’t over until the fat lady sings right? I’m still holding onto hope, but I gotta admit, things are looking very bleak for the home town right about now. I can’t even attempt to sit here and fake it. The Boston Celtics are a better team than the Philadelphia 76ers……this year. I honestly can’t see the 76ers beating these Celtics four games in a row. I’m sorry my fellow Philadelphians, but I think this is where the road ends for the 76ers…..this year. BUT, on the bright side……The Eagles won the Super Bowl! That joy can never be taken away from us!
It would be easy to sit here and blame everything on Ben Simmons. The young man has quickly gone from hero to scapegoat for everything that’s wrong with the team, in the blink of an eye. I’m not going to take that route. I’m going to look at what Boston has that the Sixers don’t. 1) Boston is a very well coached team: Not taking anything away from Brett Brown, but Celtics coach Brad Stevens is playing playoff Chess as compared to Brown’s playoff Checkers. I don’t know how long it will take for Brown to see that Robert Covington is a defensive liability. Every time Stevens sees Covington out there he runs plays for the player Covington is guarding. Remember that inbound play in overtime when Horford got that easy bucket down low to give Boston the lead? That was no coincidence. Covington was guarding Horford. 2) The young Celtics players are not afraid of the bright lights of the playoff atmosphere: Rozier, Tatum, and Jaylen Brown were out there ballin’ like they were playing in a pickup game on Sunday morning at the neighborhood park. They seemed to be completely unaware of the pressure and the “must score” theme that played out in front of them as the close game wound down. The Sixers on the other hand, clearly looked like a team that had the “playoff jitters” as the game went down the stretch. That can be overcome with more experience though. 3) The Celtics are really good: Boston has amazingly managed to figure out a way to get the most out of every player on the team. These are not big name players. We’re talking about a bunch of no-frills role players….and they’re ballin! And it’s working. Marcus Morris, Al Horford, and Marcus Smart have been thorns in the 76ers asses all series. The minute you get fortunate enough to stop or contain Brown, Rozier, or Tatum, here come these three out of nowhere. This was just an all around bad matchup for this 76ers team…..this year. But the 76ers are a young squad who WILL get better with time. Making the playoffs wasn’t the final step of the process. There’s a few more steps left to be made before the 76ers reach the final step of the process and bring an NBA Championship to the city. The future is bright….as for right now? You might as well chalk this series. It’s over. I just hope the 76ers can find a way to win at least one game against this team.
The Celtics were once again led by Tatum, Rozier, Jaylen Brown, and Al Horford. Marcus Morris had a nice game coming off the bench. He dropped 9 points and added 7 rebounds. It looked like he did much more damage than that as I watched the game in real time. Rozier remained a thorn in the 76ers backside. He added 18 pts. to go along with 7 ast. And an unsung hero for the Celtics was Aaron Baynes. Most people only noticed Embiid putting his dumb ass in a coffin on that vicious facial dunk, but Baynes played an important role that most people didn’t take notice of. He wore Embiid down. That was his job. Just put a body on Embiid all game and wear him down. Baynes did that job to perfection. He did his job so well that Embiid was the happiest person in the building when Baynes fouled out. The 76ers were led by Joel Embiid who had another dominant performance on his way to a 22 pts 19 reb. night. Ben Simmons bounced back from his 1-point effort in game-2……statistically. Ben had 16 pts. 8 reb. and 8 ast. Really good looking numbers on paper. But watching the game, the reality was that Ben Simmons still looks unsure of himself out there. Ben Simmons seems to be running away from the ball instead of running to it in the big moments. Like I said earlier, I won’t pile on to the criticism being thrown in the youngins’ direction, but Ben is going to really need to have a long conversation with himself in the offseason and ask “what is it about this Celtics team that makes me unsure about myself and my abilities?” That is a question only Ben Simmons knows the answers to. Sharpshooter J.J. Reddick added 18 pts in 41 minutes to round out the top scorers for the home team. On a side note. Robert Covington had 1-point 2 reb. and 1 ast in 25 minutes on the floor. He was also a defensive liability in every one of those 25 minutes he was out there. This is unacceptable. Check out some of the highlights (or lowlights) from game-3 below:
Video Courtesy: Rapid Highlights