After coming into game one without Joel Embiid, James Harden turned back the clock and carried the Philadelphia 76ers to a win over the Boston Celtics in game one. However, the Celtics came back in game two and would tie up the series with a dominating victory. With the 76ers stealing game one without their MVP, it appeared that they had what it took to make the Conference Finals for the first time since 2001. However, after this crushing loss and the series tied, it is up in the air if they have what it takes to take out the Celtics.
With Joel Embiid sidelined in game one, many believed that the 76ers had no chance to steal game one. However, after a 45-point performance from James Harden, Philadelphia would narrowly win by a final score of 119-115. Harden would also lead the team in assists with six while Paul Reed would dominate the boards with thirteen rebounds. Deanthony Melton also had an incredible showing off of the bench finishing the game with seventeen points while shooting five for six from three and six for ten from the field.
On the other end, Jason Tatum had an incredible game finishing with 39 points, however, it would not be enough to win the game. Jaylen Brown also had a great scoring night, contributing 23 points while taking only ten shots from the field. Boston also had a big game from a bench player as Malcolm Brogdon finished the contest with 20 points and a plus-minus of 14 despite the Celtics losing.
With Joel Embiid back on the court and the 76ers taking a win in game one, many believed that Philadelphia could find a way to steal both games on the road to open the series. However, this would end up being far from the case. The game would end in an 87-121 loss for Philadelphia, in a very poor showing on both ends of the court.
Embiid finished the game with a mediocre fifteen points, three rebounds, and five blocks. Coming off of his 45-point outburst, he would finish the game shooting two for fourteen from the field. Tobias Harris would lead the team in points with sixteen, Harden led in rebounds with ten and also would lead the charge in assists with only four.
Despite their dominating victory, Jason Tatum would have a rough game. He shot one for seven from the field and finished the game with seven points, seven rebounds, and three assists. Jaylen Brown led the team in points with 25, Tatum, Al Horford, and Robert Williams III tied for the most rebounds with seven, and Grant Williams, Brown, and Williams III led the Celtics in assists with four.
This game two performance has turned many off from having any hope of the 76ers being able to close out the series. While the next two games will be in Philadelphia, no home-court advantage can save the 76ers if they come out playing like this again. Embiid will have to demand the ball more and put up more shots. It is understandable why he took game two lightly as he was coming off of an injury, however, this is something that the 76ers can not afford.
Along with this, the team can not afford Harden to get stuck in a shooting slump. The duo of Embiid and Harden will have to be playing at their best for the 76ers to stand a chance. They did a great job of defending Tatum in game two. If that trend can continue it would leave Philadelphia in an incredible spot.
However, Jaylen Brown and Malcolm Brogdon have had big scoring nights in both games one and two. The duo is currently averaging 45.5 points per game in the series combined. Brogdon especially has been killing the 76ers off of the bench.
Philadelphia did what they needed to do and took one of the games on Boston’s home floor. If they are able to defend their home court through the remainder of the series, they will close out the series in six games. For them to do this, Harden and Embiid will have to play aggressively and take over the series on the offensive end. Along with this, they must find a way to slow down Brown and not allow Brogdon to continue to torch their bench unit.
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