Game Seven – the two best two words in all of sports.
This Sunday, May 14, the Philadelphia 76ers will travel to Boston to take on the Celtics in Game 7. It is a win-or-go-home situation for both teams, which means each squad will exhaust all of their energy in an attempt to walk out victorious. Bettors for the Celtics vs 76ers can find some great odds as the spread sits at:
Can the 76ers Win Game 7 in Boston?
Boston is a young, tough, and gritty team. They seem to have had the 76ers’ number in recent years, but Philadelphia has given the Celtics a run for their money in this series. With all of that considered, the outcome of this series will be decided solely on the result of Game 7.
It is a legacy-defining game for many people in this series: Doc Rivers, Joel Embiid, James Harden, Joe Mazzulla, and Jayson Tatum. However, it seems as if all of the pressure is on the Sixers considering the recent lack of success the team has had in the post-season. It will be a tall task for Philadelphia, but there are three key things that must happen in order for them to advance in the playoffs.
Doc Rivers Must Outcoach Joe Mazzulla
76ers head coach Doc Rivers has been on the hot seat for quite some time now. In his two previous post-season stints with the Sixers, his teams lost in the second round both times. The shortcomings that the 76ers have had in recent years will forever stain his resume.
With that said, Rivers has coached fairly well thus far in the 2023 playoffs. He has done exceptionally well at getting the most out of his bench players in the first two rounds. Paul Reed has been a major reason the Sixers were able to stay afloat without Joel Embiid; Rivers deserves the credit for believing in Reed and putting him in positions to succeed. Rivers has also been able to squeeze quality minutes out of Georges Niang, De’Anthony Melton, and Danuel House Jr.
While Doc Rivers has done nice work so far, he has not done a perfect job. Games 2 and 6 are blemishes on this post-season run, and Rivers is largely responsible for both of those losses.
It would be the most renowned failure of Doc Rivers’ career if he cannot defeat a Celtics team that is less talented and led by a first-year head coach in Joe Mazzulla.
James Harden Cannot Have Another Game 7 Collapse
Would the 76ers accept a 4o or more point game again from James Harden? Absolutely. However, Philadelphia can win without him doing that as long as he does not fall apart.
In Game 5, the 76ers won with Harden only accounting for 17 points. Doc Rivers described Harden as being a “magician” thanks to Harden adding ten assists and eight rebounds.
Doc Rivers: James Harden was a “magician” in Game 5, essentially called a “perfect game.”
— Noah Levick (@NoahLevick) May 10, 2023
What really stood out, though, was Harden only had two turnovers in Game 5. In the Games 2 and 6 losses, Harden had five turnovers in each of those games. There is a clear difference in the team’s overall success when Harden turns the ball over versus when he keeps the turnovers to a minimum.
If Harden can facilitate efficiently and not turn the ball over, then the Sixers will likely be able to win the game. All he needs to do is not collapse like he has before in big playoff games.
Feed Embiid and Get Out of the Way
The ultimate key to Philadelphia winning this game is allowing Joel Embiid to do his thing. The only way that he can effectively do so is if the 76ers feed him the ball and get out of his way.
Embiid is going to need some help when it comes to scoring. He should be able to get that from guys like Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris among others, but Embiid should be touching the ball about 80% of the time in this game. Maxey, Harris, and Harden have been far too inconsistent in this series to be taking shots away from Embiid. Unless somebody has a wide open shot or path to the basket, nobody under seven feet tall should be shooting the basketball.
The Sixers should be content with having Embiid’s performance decide the outcome. If Embiid takes most of the shots and the team loses, then Philadelphia can live with that. Having the ball in his hands gives the team their best chance at winning.
It is all or nothing for the 76ers in this upcoming Game 7. Harden, Embiid, and Rivers can all change the way that their post-season legacies are viewed with a win. On the other hand, a loss will likely be the final nail in the coffin of “the Process.” Either way, this game will have everlasting implications on the Philadelphia 76ers’ franchise.