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Nick Nurse addresses De’Anthony Melton’s injury, Sixers’ loss to Celtics

BOSTON — The Philadelphia 76ers fell to the Boston Celtics, 117-99, on Tuesday night, and they dropped to 7-17 in games Joel Embiid has not played. The Sixers shot 39.4% compared to 52.7% from the floor for the Celtics.

Along with losing the game, the Sixers lost yet another key piece: De’Anthony Melton.

Melton did not return to the floor after halftime due to what the team called back spasms. That is not a good sign for a guy who just missed over a month due to lumbar spine stress response.

“Just didn’t come out after the half,” coach Nick Nurse said after the loss. “I think it’s the same. I think it’s a back issue.”

One has to wonder if Melton will miss more time for Philadelphia. Back issues are nothing to play with, and with only 24 games left before the playoffs, the Sixers will want to be cautious with Melton to get him ready for the postseason.

“I don’t know about that, I mean, but we’re certainly concerned that it’s the same thing because we’ve taken a lot of time off to try to get it to a position of in a better place, but I haven’t really got a report on that yet,” Nurse said of any concern on Melton. “So why don’t you hit me tomorrow or the next day on that? I’ll have a little more info for you.”

As far as the game is concerned, the Sixers gave themselves a chance. Despite a 20-point deficit, they rallied to within two, 91-89, in the fourth before the Celtics responded with a 16-0 run to put the game away.

“They really started putting their head down and getting to the basket or drawing fouls,” Nurse stated. “Just kind of consistently and we had a couple of empty offensive possessions. We had about three stretches in the game I thought — maybe four — but one in the first half where we had six or eight point lead, three or four empty possessions, a couple turnovers in there. That lead went away.”

Philadelphia led by as many as seven as Tyrese Maxey played well to give the Sixers a chance.

“To start the third, just again like couldn’t even play defense in transition every time because of not great shot selection or not generating a good enough shot now that down at that end,” Nurse added. “It kind of the same thing happened right at the 91-89 mark.”

The Sixers had their chances. They earned some wide-open looks in the fourth, but those opportunities did not drop. The execution also wasn’t there.

“I thought we had some chances,” Nurse finished. “We just didn’t — we dumped a couple off inside and didn’t finish them. We had a couple open 3s that didn’t go either and it was just, again, it was playing defense in transition and they were really physical going into the basket and scoring or going to the line.”

The Sixers return home to host the Charlotte Hornets on Friday.

Story originally appeared on Sixers Wire