After earning nearly a week off following their series against the Miami Heat, many expected the Philadelphia 76ers to have a slight advantage over the Boston Celtics in Game 1 on Monday night, even if they were forced to play on the road instead of home. Terry Rozier was on fire as he drained seven 3-pointers en route to 29 points, eight rebounds and six assists, Jayson Tatum added 28 points while Al Horford added 26 points with four assists.
Embiid scored 31 points with 13 rebounds for Philadelphia, which lost for just the second time in 22 games. As a team, the 76ers just weren't on their game as they shot just 42 percent from the field and a miserable five of 26 from the three-point line. They were leading 29-27 early in the second quarter and looked to have survived an impressive start from the Celtics.
Boston, playing without shooting guard Jaylen Brown who was ruled out minutes before the game, had three players step up in his absence on Monday. The third-year guard knocked down seven 3-point shots, including a couple of daggers when the 76ers were on the verge of coming back. But, that's why they play the games. J.J. Redick had 20 points, while Ben Simmons grabbed 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists. "And I think Jayson, he's starting to figure it out". He was one of the most impactful players in the Celtics' Game 1 win - a matchup featuring two Sixers many consider generational talents. The Celtics used Horford to pull Embiid away from the basket, but for the most part, they didn't bother challenging him - instead driving to pass (knowing the Sixers would cheat and leave someone open) and relying on their perimeter ball movement to break Philly down. "We're going to see how it goes".
The task will get a lot more hard for Rozier and Co. against the defense-savvy Sixers, who can also space the floor with a lineup of matchup nightmares at any time. Robert Covington had yet another very bad shooting night, going 0-for-6 from the field, 0-for-4 from three, for three points. When you're hot, you're hot, and Rozier knows he's en fuego. They supported their team tonight.
Guys like Dario Saric, Robert Covington and Markelle Fultz (who did not play because of coach's decision) will ultimately need to become more consistent for this team to reach their full potential.
"I thought he was really good, really consistent", Brad Stevens said of Tatum after the game. While the Celtics got by without him in Game One, if he can play, the Celtics will have a much better shot at going up 2-0 when the series moves to Philadelphia.