Celtics avoid sweep

<> at TD Garden on April 30, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts.
<> at TD Garden on April 30, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. /

The Boston Celtics spanked the Philadelphia 76ers, 117-101, in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

I figured we could all use a little humor after Game 1, hence the headline.

Ick, that was ugly.

It looked like the Philadelphia 76ers spent those six days off staring at themselves in the mirror, admiring how good they are while listening to goofy videos by Will Smith, telling them how good they are.  Time to stop smelling yourselves.  You got your heads handed to you by a Boston team that’s missing Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Jaylen Brown.  It was an unimpressive opening act.

As far as the game itself, in a microcosm, the Sixers were ice cold and Boston was on fire.

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The Sixers missed 15 of their first 20 shots.  Ick.  They also missed 21 of 26 three pointers.  Ugly.  They were horrid, clanging the ball off the rim, missing layups, open shots, free throws and everything in between.  The Celtics thrived on the dreadful shooting, running off the Sixers’ misses and finding their rhythm early and often, shooting well the entire game.

I kept waiting for Boston to cool off or get tired, but it never happened.  Surprisingly it was the Sixers who appeared fatigued.  The Celtics were scorching hot from beyond the arc, making 17 of 35 threes (48.6 percent).  They shot 48.2 percent from the floor overall and made a remarkable 18 of 19 from the foul line (94.73 percent).

The Sixers cut the lead to eight points twice in the fourth quarter (I heard someone on the radio say they cut it to six but I don’t remember that), but that’s as close as it got.  Boston answered each time to push the lead back to 10, 11 or more, and finally won by 16 in a mild blowout, 117-101.

Joel Embiid had 31 to lead the Sixers and Terry Rozier paced the Celtics with 29.  But more importantly, the Celtics were the better team overall.  They outplayed the Sixers in every facet of the game.

So, do we just chalk that up to an off-game by the Sixers after a long layoff?  Maybe.  I’ll go into a further analysis of adjustments needed in a future article.  But whatever the reason, the Celtics showed up and the Sixers didn’t.  Boston means business.  And their confidence will only grow after that performance.

The Sixers likely won’t shoot 19.23 percent from deep again this series, so let’s see how Game 2 plays out.  But between now and then, they need to turn down the music, stop reading the press clippings, and figure out how to beat the team in the ugly green jerseys in front of them.

Hopefully this game serves as a wake-up call, like Game 2 against Miami did.  For the first time, these Sixers are behind in games, 1-0, in the post-season.  This is now a series.