Surprisingly, the Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers series ended in a Celtics sweep. The Celtics dominated the 76ers from the very start. This is while the 76ers suffered their worst setback in the Joel Embiidand Ben Simmons era.
Boston Celtics-Philadelphia 76ers Playoffs Recap
The Lack of Offense from the Philadelphia 76ers Frontcourt
The 76ers were supposed to have a huge advantage over the Celtics on the frontcourt. Embiid did his part averaging 30 points, 12.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game in the playoffs. Offensively, Embiid was by far their best player. However, it was their forwards that let them down in this series.
Tobias Harris and Al Horford had a disappointing playoff series with the Celtics. Harris had 15.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 0.5 steals per game. However. Harris did not have an efficient field goal percentage which was 38.3 percent. Furthermore, his free throw percentage was 78.9 percent, which was the worst free throw percentage he has had in the NBA playoffs.
Horford also did not have a productive series. Yes, he had an efficient 48.0 percent field goal percentage. However, a lot of his other stats were not up to par. He averaged only 7.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.3 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game. Furthermore, his free throw percentage was anything but efficient. He averaged only 57.1 percent from the free-throw line.
The Philadelphia 76ers’ Inability to Close Out Games
This was probably the biggest reason why the 76ers lost the series. Three of the four games were within 10 points. Furthermore, two of those three games the 76ers were leading after three quarters. This shows the 76ers’ inability to close games out.
For game one, they were ahead by three points before the start of the fourth quarter. They were -12 in the last quarter. There were also leading by five points with 10:54 left in the fourth quarter. There were also leading by three points with 9:02 left in the fourth quarter according to ESPN. Then the Celtics went on a 9-0 run. After that run, the 76ers never held the lead over the Celtics. The Celtics ended up winning that game 109-101.
Game three though was possibly the most heartbreaking for 76ers fans. The 76ers led 94-92 with two minutes left in the game. The Celtics then went on a 10-0 run to end the game. Although the 76ers were not eliminated in game three, the series was all but over. Very few teams if any catch up from a 3-0 series deficit. The series was pretty much over for the 76ers.
Top Performers for the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers
One of the questions heading into the Boston Celtics-Philadelphia 76ers playoffs series was Kemba Walker and his production. This is because of his trouble producing when being guarded by Josh Richardson of the 76ers. This problem held true for the first game. Walker only had 19 points in his first playoff game with the Celtics.
However, he would perform well in the other three playoff games. This included scoring 32 points, four rebounds, four assists, and four steals in game four. He played a big role in the Celtics’ strong start against the 76ers. Walker ended up averaging 24.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.3 steals against the 76ers.
Probably the biggest surprise in the series. Jaylen Brown played a big part in the Celtics winning game one. He scored 29 points, six rebounds, four assists, and three steals in that game. He ended up averaging 21.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.0 steal per game in the series.
Jayson Tatum was certainly the best player in this series. Tatum had two double-doubles. He also had two games where he scored over 30 points in two of his four playoff games against the 76ers. He was also +19 in game one and +29 in game two against the 76ers. He played a huge role in winning game one as the Celtics won by eight points against the 76ers. Tatum averaged 27.0 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.5 steals, and 2.3 blocks per game against the 76ers.
The Celtics’ defense played a big role in their series win over the 76ers. Most notably was the performance of Celtics’ center Enes Kanter. His defensive rating was 94.3, which was one of the highest for the Celtics according to stats.nba.com. According to Chris Forsberg of nbcsports.com, both Kanter and Daniel Theis played a big part in the Celtics’ series win.
In the first three games of the series, Kanter and Theis had a defensive rating of 97.7 when both players were on the floor. Yes, Embiid was great offensively, but he has also turned the ball 3.7 times per game in the first three games. More importantly, when Embiid was on the floor, his team was outscored by 45 points in the first three games in the series. A lot of that has to do with the defense of Kanter and Theis.
Gordon Hayward Injury
The Celtics are going to miss Gordon Hayward. He was injured in game one of the 76ers-Celtics series and has left the bubble and is currently in Boston to heal his right ankle injury. According to NBA.com, he is likely to miss four weeks.
#NEBHInjuryReport Brad Stevens says Gordon Hayward has returned home and that the plan is for him to return to the bubble when he is nearing a return to the court.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) August 23, 2020
Even when Hayward returns to Orlando, he may not be able to play straight away because of the coronavirus pandemic. It is likely that Hayward would miss most or all games in the series. This might become a major problem as they face tougher opponents like the Toronto Raptors. Hayward averaged 17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and a 38.3 three-point shooting percentage in the 2019-20 NBA season.
The Celtics will now face the Raptors in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. This is the first time both teams have ever faced each other in the NBA playoffs. The first game will take place on Thursday at 6:30 PM eastern time.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) August 24, 2020
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