The Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics will clash once again on Friday, finishing up a two-game series that currently is in the grasp of Philadelphia. The 76ers won game one last night, 117-109. Each team was missing at least one player due to quarantining in lieu of the deadly COVID-19 virus. The Celtics were missing start player Jayson Tatum, and frontcourt presence Robert Williams III. For the 76ers, shooting guard Seth Curry was out for his seventh straight game after contracting COVID-19 two weeks ago.
The Celtics will once again be without the services of Jayson Tatum, reported on Thursday by Yahoo Sports’ Keith Smith. It is expected that Robert Williams will be out as well, as a timetable for his return is unconfirmed. Other notable players who will not play include Carsen Edwards, Romeo Langford, and rookie Aaron Nesmith. Plus, Kemba Walker, playing in only his third game this season, will continue to be on a minutes restriction. This means that Boston will once again have to rely much more on their starters for substantial production.
The Celtics need to continue to attack the paint in this upcoming game. Especially in the first half, they played aggressively, trying to attack the rim, and they did so to much success. However, their defensive woes caused them to be more conservative on offense in the second half, which was one of the many reasons why they let the 76ers come back and win. Two of their biggest faults in the previous game, however, were fouls and the inability to stop Joel Embiid.
While some fouls were due to questionable calls by the officiating crew, they still committed 17 of their 29 in the second half. This allowed the 76ers to get free possessions and points at the free-throw line. These fouls added 17 points onto Joel Embiid’s 42-point night, who feasted on Boston’s lacking post defense. Tristan Thompson and Daniel Theis were not able to stop the Cameroonian big man over the course of the night, allowing him to score at will when not double-teamed. Tomorrow night, it would be wise for Brad Stevens to take a page out of Erik Spoelstra’s book when game-planning against Embiid. The Miami Heat coach was able to contain Embiid during the second game of their two-game affair after Embiid had 45 points during the first.
Otherwise, the Celtics looked good last night. Marcus Smart uncharacteristically scored 25 points. Jaylen Brown continued to dominate, putting up 26. Daniel Theis had 23 points, two shy of a career-high, and a team-leading 10 rebounds. Plus, Kemba Walker, on a minutes restriction, still had 19 points. If the Celtics tidy up their defense, limit the fouling, and better defend Joel Embiid, they could win on Friday.