Player grades: Joel Embiid, Sixers come up short in Game 7 vs. Celtics
BOSTON–The Philadelphia 76ers had their opportunity staring right in front of them. The task was simple: Win and advance to their first Eastern Conference finals in 22 years.
With that being said, the Boston Celtics are not an easy team to bury. The Cs proved that on Thursday when they went into Philadelphia and staved off elimination that night to force this Game 7.
The Celtics took a double-digit lead in the third quarter as Jayson Tatum took over for Boston and the Sixers were not able to fight back. Joel Embiid and James Harden had a tough time finding their offensive rhythm and the Celtics walked away with the 112-88 win to end Philadelphia’s season. Tatum scored a Game 7 record 51 points for Boston.
Embiid had 15 points on 5-for-18 shooting and two blocks, Harden had nine points on 3-for-11 shooting, six rebounds, and seven assists, Tobias Harris had 17 points, PJ Tucker had 11, and Tyrese Maxey had 17.
Here are the player grades following the season-ending loss:
James Harden: D+
The first half for Harden wasn’t great. He didn’t have much lift on his jumper so he struggled with scoring, he had some bone-headed turnovers, and he wasn’t able to finish at the basket either. He also committed a flagrant-1 foul, which was questionable, but it was understandable considering he hit Jaylen Brown in the face. Once again, he looked hesitant and he didn’t make his first triple until the third quarter. He also had a tough time on the defensive end. The Sixers needed a strong Harden game with the season on the line and he wasn’t able to deliver.
Tyrese Maxey: C+
The Sixers needed a nice Maxey game in this one and he provided it. He was consistent with his 3-point shot, he was aggressive on his drives to the basket, and he also helped the Sixers on the glass. Rebounding is something Maxey has been terrific with this entire series. He hasn’t been afraid to mix it up inside with the bigger players and he has held his own in terms of rebounding. Overall, he didn’t shoot the ball well either and the Sixers weren’t able to overcome the struggles.
Tobias Harris: B-
After appearing to injure his knee in the first quarter, Harris stayed in and provided a lift with his offense and his knack for making hustle plays. He was able to help the Sixers take the lead amid the slow offensive start from Embiid. Overall, Harris played his role. He needed to be more efficient with the 3-ball, but he didn’t play terribly in this one.
PJ Tucker: B
Another game that proved the value of Tucker. His knocking down three corner triples early was huge for this team on the offensive end. That led to the Celtics having to pay more attention to him and he moved well without the ball leading to a layup for himself. His offense was huge in the opening quarter. Tucker did his part in this one, but the rest of the team wasn’t able to get going.
Joel Embiid: D+
The big fella didn’t have a great start as he wasn’t able to find a groove on the offensive end, but while he was working through that, the Sixers were able to get a big effort from Tucker. Embiid then dominated the game on the defensive end as he was protecting the rim at an elite level while he also did a great job of moving his feet and cleaning up mistakes. However, his offensive struggles are inexcusable in a game of this magnitude. He wasn’t able to find any type of rhythm, he was forcing too much, and he wasn’t able to do anything on the offensive end. It’s really unfortunate that his season ended this way because he was absolutely phenomenal all season long, but he was hampered by the LCL sprain in his knee and it’s yet another challenge he is going to have to overcome.
De'Anthony Melton: B
With the Sixers needing a spark, Melton provided it with his ability to get to the basket on offense and his energy on the glass. He had a big offensive tip-in off a miss and he was able to give the Sixers some help on the defensive end. He picked up a couple of fouls, but he had an overall nice day on that end.
Niang had a nice defensive moment in this one, but it was outweighed by him picking up a technical foul for grabbing Brown’s knee when he dove into the Sixers’ bench to go after a loose ball. Brown said something back so he picked up a technical foul as well, but Niang has to be smarter in that situation.
Paul Reed: Incomplete
The run for Reed was a regular Reed run. He made a few nice hustle plays and he was active on the defensive end. it just wasn’t enough in a game like this.