Sixers: Good, bad, ugly from opening night loss to Celtics

James Harden, Sixers Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
James Harden, Sixers Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports /
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(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Bad elements of Sixers’ loss to Celtics

  • Joel Embiid

He finished the game with 26 points and 15 rebounds, a respectable line by all measures. But this was not Embiid’s best effort. He basically went A.W.O.L on defense. If he wants Philly to have the best defense in the NBA, he will have to play significantly better.

Embiid was equally frustrating on offense. Poor spacing and Boston’s active defense clearly got to him. The 7-footer posted six turnovers to five assists and struggled to handle the Celtics’ double teams. This wasn’t even a case of Al Horford’s individual brilliance — Embiid simply got flustered by the pressure sent his way.

The Sixers and Embiid have to work together to get him better looks offensively. There were a couple pick-and-rolls with Harden that resulted in easy layups or fouls at the rim. Why are the Sixers not leveraging Harden to get Embiid easier looks more often? Why is he posting up 18 feet away from the basket against the best defense in the league, a defense known for its suffocating pressure? Embiid needs to fight harder for position in the post, and the Sixers need to make a concerted effort to get the ball to Embiid in more advantageous positions. A lot of it falls squarely on Embiid. Just handing him the ball at the free throw line with his back to the basket is not the best offensive method.

  • Big minutes, bad bench

Tyrese Maxey played 38 minutes. Joel Embiid and James Harden played 37 minutes each. It’s only game one. The Sixers will have ample opportunities to rest their guys against lesser opponents, but the bench being so ineffective (and in so few minutes) is a bummer. Stagger starters, but be smart about it.