On the heels of a dominant road victory in Boston — a victory that filled the fanbase with a rare optimism — the Sixers returned home for Game 6 with a 3-2 series lead. Keeping with tradition, Philadelphia wet the bed and forfeited a prime opportunity to advance past the second round for the first time in Joel Embiid’s career.
Now, Doc Rivers’ squad faces the ultimate test — a do-or-die Game 7 in unfriendly territory, against the one team that has haunted the modern-era Sixers more than any other. This is easily the biggest game of the Embiid era; are we about to witness the forging of a new legacy or the dying gasp of a failed dynasty?
Only time will tell. The game will tip off at 3:30 PM E.T. on Sunday, May 14. Who needs to show up in a big way for the 76ers?
76ers players who must step up in Game 7 vs. Celtics
1. De’Anthony Melton
The Sixers have received some impressive defensive contributions from De’Anthony Melton in this series, but he will be more important than ever in Game 7. The Celtics started Robert Williams in place of Derrick White in Game 6, allowing Williams to roam off of the non-shooting P.J. Tucker and muck up Philadelphia’s offense around the paint.
If the Sixers ride with Tucker during the Williams minutes, the offense is going to have a tough time keeping pace. That could lead to more opportunities for Melton, who can replace some of Tucker’s on-ball defense while offering significantly more on the offensive end.
Melton’s shooting has run hot and cold all series. It was ice-cold in Game 6, including several wide-open missed 3s down the stretch. He will need to hit shots and bring his defensive A-game if the Sixers want to win. And, with the Tucker matchup concerns, he could be facing his biggest workload yet.