Philadelphia 76ers: Exorcism may be necessary for Boston Celtics demons

Joel Embiid | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Joel Embiid | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia 76ers lost 112-109 in a tight contest against the Boston Celtics. They are now 0-3 vs the Celtics this season and have lost seven of their last eight match-ups.

Why should Brad Stevens even bother playing Kyrie Irving in games against the Philadelphia 76ers?

They have beaten them five of the last six tries in which they were without their superstar point guard. Just give him the night(s) off and let the rest of the guys do the work.

It has not failed them yet.

Watching this 76ers team play the Celtics is more frustrating than rush hour traffic. Nothing seems to work and they end up with a meltdown to some degree every time things start turning in their direction.

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The Sixers entered halftime down 52-46. About midway through the third quarter, they erased the deficit and actually jumped out to an eight-point lead.

Shortly after, the Celtics managed to pull off a run and almost ended the quarter up five points before Jimmy Butler hit a buzzer-beating layup.

The fourth quarter was filled with drama, but of course the Celtics managed to keep their cool and the Sixers… not so much.

They had chances but were unable to avoid giving up three-pointers or committing fouls.

In a game where Joel Embiid thought he was Klay Thompson with all the spot-up shooting he did, Al Horford played elite basketball on the other end.

It was a movie we have all seen before.

Jimmy Butler had a chance to tie the game at 106 a piece after getting fouled on a three-point shot attempt. Bricking two of the three free throw shots made that impossible.

Joel Embiid had the ball with under thirty seconds to go and played for the foul instead of actually trying to make a basket.

Guess what happened?

There was no foul called.

Tobias Harris seemed awfully passive when he had open looks and J.J. Redick struggled to gain rhythm despite what the stat sheet might say.

It was a game where Brett Brown was out-coached. Brad Stevens came up with schemes to find his players wide open shots while the 76ers had to work for many of their baskets.

The switching, the defense, the ball movement, the hustle, the aggression for rebounds. Stevens’ squad simply wanted it more.

The demons continue to haunt this group. Something about that leprechaun gives the 76ers endless nightmares.

If it continues in a potential playoff matchup then we will have to start heading into Toronto Raptors vs. LeBron James territory when talking about this “rivalry” that is not really a rivalry at all.

It is frustrating to watch.

It would be one thing if the Celtics were dominated the 76ers for 48 minutes but that is not the case.

The Sixers in large spurts will play terrific basketball. They have more talent and more size. They have more high-end players.

The issue is closing the deal and holding onto a good thing, meaning that they need to keep momentum going instead of giving it all right back.

They had a golden opportunity to erase these demons once and for all and it is plausible that Elton Brand had that in mind when he went he completed his shopping list over the last few months.

Once again, they fell short and played discombobulated basketball in crunch time.

Gordon Hayward seemed to have the basketball version of the Midas touch, where everything he touches turns to gold, or in this case a basket. Maybe this game was more terrific Celtics than poor 76ers and this is just an emotional, prisoner-of-the-moment response.

But when a team has had your number for two years, you do not get that benefit of the doubt.

You need to prove to the basketball world, but more importantly yourselves, that you can beat that basketball team from Boston.

Until then, any criticism or doubt is deserved. It is time to conquer these demons and they will have another shot to do that on March 20.

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Otherwise the City of Brotherly Love will need to call upon Cotton Marcus to exorcise their basketball team.