Sluggish Sixers get whipped by Celtics in Game 1

Winslow Townson - USA Today

Boston may not think Ben Simmons is a rookie, but he looked like one on Monday night.

He wasn’t alone, either.

Terry Rozier had 29 points, Jayson Tatum netted 28 and Al Horford had 26 as the undermanned and Jaylen Brown-less Celtics routed the Philadelphia 76ers 117-101 in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

The Boston faithful chanted “not a rookie” at Simmons whenever he went to the foul line, while Tatum received the “he’s a rookie” treatment.

There was a lot more to the humbling defeat than just being rusty and not playing in a week. Rust doesn’t explain the lack of defensive intensity and Joel Embiid admitted after the game that the Sixers weren’t ready.

We’re NBA players. We’re in the playoffs. We’ve got to be ready every game. We weren’t ready tonight.

He also said that the defensive futility starts with him.

I thought I was (bad). I thought we were all bad tonight. That’s not who we are defensively

Boston was 17-of-35 (48.6 percent) from 3-point range, with Rozier knocking down seven of his nine shots from long distance. Horford was 10-of-12 from the floor and Tatum consistently took advantage of Philadelphia’s switching defense, getting matched up against the helpless J.J. Redick for most of the night. The Sixers also missed a plethora of defensive assignments and excessively failed to close out on Boston’s shots from behind the arc.

This beatdown also came with Brown being sidelined with a strained hamstring, which was suffered during Boston’s Game 7 victory against the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night.

Sixers head coach Brett Brown simply said that “this is not who we are.”

To look at this game, defensively, offensively, this isn’t who we are. This was a very poor game for us. I give the Celtics a lot of credit producing that. This isn’t who we are.

This surely wasn’t the same Sixers team that came in winning 19 of their last 20 games and producing a 31-10 mark since last facing the Celtics in January.

While Boston found success beyond the perimeter, Philadelphia connected on just five of its 26 3-point attempts. Some of that had to do with not hitting its open looks, but the other had to do with Boston’s style of play and dictating the pace. The game was played predominantly in a half-court setting and the Sixers are at their best when Ben Simmons has the ball in the open floor and finding his open shooters along the wings and corners. And when they did run, those looks from deep were forced.

This sequence epitomized Game 1 in a nutshell.

Not only the forced triples, but Rozier waltzing to the tin completely unabated at the other end.

Embiid seemed like the only Sixer to show up in Boston. He had 31 points and 13 rebounds, with 11 of those points coming in the third quarter.

The rest of the Sixers’ boxscore was tough to look at. Simmons committed seven turnovers, Robert Covington was 0-of-6 from the field and had one defensive lapse after another and prized in-season acquisitions Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova combined to shoot a woeful 5-of-18.

Philadelphia trailed 56-45 at halftime and never got within less than six in the second half, where the Celtics increased the advantage to as much as 19.

Game 2 is Thursday night in Boston.


You can follow Adrian Fedkiw on Twitter (@AdrianFedkiw) and e-mail him at amfedkiw@yahoo.com. Subscribe to The Bitter Birds on YouTube here. Follow Philly Influencer on Twitter (@PHL_Influencer), Facebook and Instagram.

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