Player grades: Jaylen Brown, Celtics find a way to overcome Sixers
PHILADELPHIA–The Philadelphia 76ers had an opportunity to make a statement on Saturday as they played host to the No. 1 seed in the East, the Boston Celtics. The Sixers entered this contest dropping the first two matchups with their rivals and Philadelphia was looking to avenge those two losses.
In what was a charged-up atmosphere due to the nature of a Sixers-Celtics matchup combined with the prime-time slot, both teams exchanged body blows with each other in what could be compared to a prize fight. In the end, Jaylen Brown and the Celtics proved why they’re in the position they’re in as they fought their way to a 110-107 win over the Sixers as Jayson Tatum drilled a triple with 1.3 seconds left. Brown had 26 points and former Sixer Al Horford had 15 points while knocking down five triples.
Joel Embiid had 41 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists to lead the Sixers, James Harden had 21 points and seven assists, and six rebounds Tobias Harris had 19 points, and PJ Tucker had seven points and 16 rebounds. Tyrese Maxey had eight points off the bench.
Here are the player grades following the loss.
James Harden: B
Harden was looking for his offense early and he seemed to force up a few shots, but the Celtics really didn’t have anybody to stay in front of him on the perimeter. He was getting into the paint and he was setting up his teammates while also attacking the glass. On an overall note, Harden had a tough time shooting the ball and it looked as if he was forcing shots a bit against a stifling Celtics team.
De'Anthony Melton: C-
It was a non-descript start for Melton as he looked a bit gassed to start the game, but he was able to make an impact after halftime when he got two triples to fall. With that being said, he wasn’t great defensively and he got into foul trouble which limited his effectiveness.
Tobias Harris: A
The start for Harris was terrific as he was able to knock down two spot-up triples and then he cut to the basket for a slam. He had 12 points in the opening quarter and he was aggressive in terms of looking for his shot. It kept going for him in the second half as he started off with a tough bucket off the bounce and he drilled another spot-up triple. Harris is such a rhythm player and when he has this type of rhythm, then he and the Sixers are tough to stop. It just wasn’t enough in this one.
PJ Tucker: A
These are the types of games why the Sixers went out and signed Tucker. In the first quarter, he knocked down a corner triple and he made a few hustle plays on the offensive glass in order to get some extra possessions for Philadelphia. He was all over the place on the defensive end, he was huge on the glass, and he was big on the offensive end with his shooting. He was terrific all night.
Joel Embiid: A
Just watching Embiid from the jump, one could tell that this one meant a little bit more to him. He was aggressive in the paint, he was attacking Al Horford, he was calling for the ball, and he continued to make the right reads out of double teams. The big fella had 20 points by the end of the second quarter and he was dominating the Celtics every chance he had. He was efficient with his shot, he was able to get to the free-throw line, he was excellent with his passing, and he was great in terms of protecting the basket.
Tyrese Maxey: C-
The young man out of Kentucky had a mismatch when the Celtics inserted Sam Hauser into the game. He took him right to the cup and finished a tough layup, but Boston noticed this and quickly took Hauser out of the game. Other than that one layup, Maxey really had a tough night. He was missing shots he normally makes and he wasn’t able to really make a positive impact in this one. In order for the Sixers to succeed, they need him to lead the bench unit and ensure they have offensive success. If he’s off, the second group will struggle as they did in this one.
Jalen McDaniels: B-
With the elite scorers the Celtics possess, coach Doc Rivers called on McDaniels to make a difference on the defensive end. His length and quickness bothered Jayson Tatum a bit at the start of this one as he was able to force some turnovers and allow the Sixers to get out in transition. In terms of what his role on this team is, this is a night Philadelphia will take more of from him.
Georges Niang: F
The initial stint for The Minivan was a tough one. He wasn’t able to convert on an open triple and then he had a tough miss at the basket. He also wasn’t able to make much of an impact on the defensive end in this one. It was more of the same in the second half as he wasn’t able to contribute in this one.
Paul Reed: F
The initial run for Reed was tough. He wasn’t able to make a huge impact on defense or on the glass. He also committed an offensive interference and he stepped out of bounds when trying to drive to the basket. He then only played a minute in the fourth quarter as he started off poorly and Rivers went to Tucker as a small ball 5 before Embiid re-entered.
Shake Milton: Incomplete
Milton only played two minutes in the second half as he didn’t get much of a chance to contribute in this one.