Sixers assess season after disheartening Game 7 road loss to Celtics
BOSTON–In the grand scheme of things, the Philadelphia 76ers had a nice 2022-23 season. The first full year of Joel Embiid and James Harden produced some encouraging results as the two of them were just dominant out on th floor and the team won 54 games after the 12-12 start to the season.
The Sixers swept the Brooklyn Nets in Round 1 of the playoffs for their first sweep of a seven-game series since 1985 and they held a 3-2 lead over the Boston Celtics in the semifinals.
However, the Sixers saw that lead slip away. They had a chance to close the series out at home, but they fell in Game 6 after the offense stalled late and they then didn’t have a real shot in Game 7 as they fell 112-88 producing a very familiar result this franchise has seen in recent years.
“We played great all year,” said coach Doc Rivers. “This loss absolutely diminishes that, what we did this year in some ways. It doesn’t for us. I think this team is headed right. I thought we took another mental step this season and then tonight (Sunday), I thought we took that step backwards, but that’s OK. That happens, too.”
It was just a really disheartening effort from the Sixers on the road. They had been a resilient group all season long, but they just weren’t able to gather that resilience up on Sunday. It’s a tough ending after they had won Game 5 on the road to take the 3-2 with them back to Philadelphia.
PJ Tucker agreed with Rivers’ assessment that the loss diminished the season.
“Yeah. I agree 1,000%,” said Tucker. “All the sacrifices and all the things that everybody did around the team. For everything to come out the way it did to go down like that without feeling like you gave a full fight, two disappointing games to win the series.”
When asked his thoughts on Rivers’ assessment and the season as a whole, Embiid took a more philosophical approach.
“You could say that,” Embiid started. “Losing by how ever many points we did lose by. That’s not us. It doesn’t represent us, but I thought, obviously, they played well, and we just found the wrong night to be cold. All of us. We just missed a lot of shots. Wide-open ones all game long so, yeah, I think a lot of guys on this team fought the whole year and I appreciate them for that. We all fought and I thought for the most part, we played hard and we all cared about winning.”
The Celtics were a dominant team all season and there is a reason why they were considered the favorite in the East all season. Embiid acknowledged that after the season-ending loss.
“I think that’s the best team in the league,” he finished. “They’re so talented and they got a lot of guys that can play great basketball. Like I said, losing to them, seven games, I thought for the most part, we played hard, and we just came up short.”
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