Game Recap: Game 57 @Philly

Author’s Note: Alright, we are gonna do this recap a little differently.  In an homage to one of my favorite sports writers (Bill Simmons), I’m gonna make this recap a “retro running diary” in Simmons style. It’s gonna go like this: Everything will be in present tense unless stated otherwise; the notes will follow the game chronologically as if you (the reader) and I (the writer) are watching it live.  Hope you enjoy it…

Boston Celtics v Philadelphia 76ers

Pre-Game:

  • February 12, 2019; Regular Season game 57; @ Philadelphia
  • After excruciating losses to both Los Angeles teams, a Kyrie knee sprain and questionable comments from Marcus Morris; the Celts need this W….BADLY.
  • Tonight’s game features a sixers team who has gone through yet another reboot:
    • Player’s gone from East semis of last year’s playoffs: Saric, Covington, Ilyasova, Belinelli, Anderson, Bayless, Fultz and Holmes
    • Players added since last year’s playoffs: Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris, Korkmaz, Ennis, Jonathan Simmons, Marjanovic and Scott
  • Inactives for the Celtics: Kyrie Irving (knee), Aron Baynes (foot)
  • Broadcasted by the “Player’s Only” crew on TNT (Greg Anthony, Kevin McHale and Jim Jackson)

Quarter 1

  • Starters for tonight: Rozier, Smart, Tatum, Morris and Horford
  • 7:57 left in the 1st; 8-4, Celtics: Al Horford receives a technical foul while guarding Embiid. Big Al looks locked in early, scoring the Celtics first bucket and checking Embiid defensively by himself.  He’s already forced Embiid into some bad shots and this technical foul shows just how much this game means to the typically stoic Horford.
  • The Celtics look locked early on defense; effort is definitely there which isn’t a surprise since this is a “big game.”
  • On offense, the ball is moving pretty well.  The Celtics are focusing the offense on whoever Redick is guarding and working out from there.
  • 2:48 left in the 1st; 20-15, Celtics: Gordon Hayward hits a 3.  He is starting to heat up.  He had a tremendous defensive possession against Tobias Harris which led to a high screen from Horford that freed him up for the smooth 3.
  • Jaylen Brown has also entered the game looking to be aggressive.  Hayward and Brown have both turned their seasons around in recent weeks by being aggressive with the ball and not settling for jumpers.
  • Celtics playing great defense throughout the first quarter.  Every shot Philly takes is contested and the Celtics are playing more physical, bumping cutters and running shooters off their spots.

Score after 1st Quarter: 28-23, Celtics

Quarter 2

  • Hayward, Brown, Wanamaker, Horford, Smart start the second.
  • 12:00 left in the 2nd: Kevin McHale just said “dickhead” very audibly on live television…. with Jimmy Butler being prominently shown on the screen….coincidence?!
  • 12:00: Hayward hits another 3 to start the second and he’s now 3/4 from deep
    • sidenote: Hayward/Horford pick and roll is pretty nice.  Would love to see more of that as the season goes on
    • author’s note: Hayward’s month by month stats via (celtics.everyday):
      • October: 10.2ppg/5.3rpg/1.7apg
      • November: 10.3ppg/5.4rpg/3.9apg
      • December: 10.4ppg/4.3rpg/3.8apg
      • January: 11.5ppg/3.9rpg/3.3apg
      • February: 14.6ppg/4.6rpg/4.0apg
  • “He’s got two hands on him” – anonymous Sixers fan mistakenly thinking Al Horford is fouling Embiid.  Come on now…
  • Butler vs. Tatum:  Tatum gets Jimmy one on one multiple times in this quarter.   He settles for a jumper a couple of times but in one instance, he simply drives right into Butler’s chest and elevates up over him. Need to see more of this from Tatum
  • Simmons is invisible out there….
  • 6:40 left in the 2nd; 39-38, Philly: first Philly lead of the game
  • Philly is getting wide open 3’s, hitting some and bricking most.  They should be up more but they aren’t hitting.
  • Simmons controlling pace and seemingly playing more aggressive by attacking the basket and getting to the line.
  • 3:09 left in the 2nd; 44-44 tie game: Embiid checks back in.  2/6 shooting to start the game.
    • author’s note: McHale brings up Al Horford’s unique blend of athleticism and intellect as the reason he’s able to check the more physically gifted Embiid.  Horford consistently beats Embiid to his own spot and never lets him get comfortable with the ball.  Yes, Embiid gets his points but ultimately his isolation play hurts his team because they are such inefficient shots.
  • Philly getting sloppy coupled with the Celtics turning the defense back on leads to an 8-0 run to end the half.

Halftime Score: 52-46, Celtics up

Quarter 3

  • author’s note: pace is gonna pickup here in the second half and I started taking better notes… strap in…
  • Rozier, Smart, Tatum, Morris and Horford start the 3rd
  • 10:04 left in the 3rd, 52-52 tie game: Philly comes out playing hard and Celts come out sluggish. Quick 6-0 run gets Philly right back in it
  • 9:31, 55-52, Philly: Redick 3 makes it 9-0 Philly run
  • 9:18, 55-54, Philly: Celtics begin pounding the ball into Smart with Redick guarding him
    • author’s note: watch for this theme
  • 8:30, 57-54, Philly: Simmons dunk; “first time going downhill in this game” – Greg Anthony
  • 7:58, 57-56, Philly: OMG TATUM JUST SHOOK EMBIID AND DUNKED OVER SIMMONS! AND HE’S ONLY 20!
  • 7:07, 62-56, Philly: Another Redick 3 gets the Philly crowd up and into it
    • concern is mounting for us Celtics fans right now.  We’ve seen this script before: sluggish start to the half, opponent gains confident and makes a huge deflating run, etc.  Celtics gotta pick up the pieces and make a run of their own here.
  • 5:11, 66-60, Philly: Hayward fouled, going to the line.  Second straight possession the Celtics have used Hayward as the primary ball handler and both have resulted in buckets.  Hayward 2/2 at the line, 66-62 Philly still up.
  • 3:02, 66-64, Philly: back-to-back bad possessions by Philly
    • Embiid/Simmons turnover trying to force it inside
    • bad shot by Embiid over Horford
  • 2:54, 67-66, CELTICS: another Hayward 3 puts the Celts back in front. Hayward is having a great game.
  • 2:47: McHale apologizes for calling somebody a dickhead. Never clarifies who he was talking about though which is annoying.
  • 1:41, 74-68, Celtics: Hayward 2/2 at the line after taking hard drive right into Embiid’s gut.  Hayward is slowly taking over this game and has quietly controlled the pace.
  • End of 3rd, 77-74: Butler hits a tough lay-in over Horford at the buzzer.  Tough shot but really the only thing of note Butler has done all game. However, Philly is hanging around.

score after 3rd Quarter: 77-74, Celtics up

Quarter 4

  • Brown, Rozier, Horford, Hayward, Morris start the 4th.
  • 11:44, 77-74, Celtics:  C’s pound the ball into Brown in the post vs redick who immediately fouls him.  Celts are taking advantage of either JJ Redick or TJ McConnell by taking them into the post every single time.
  • 10:39, 83-76, Celtics: Morris dunk, feed from Horford after he gets doubled.
    • authors note: 2nd straight possession the Celts have gone into the post to exploit the mismatch
  • 7:45, 92-84, Celtics: great finish by Brown over Embiid.  Celts are not afraid to take the ball at Embiid at all and he is racking up fouls
  • 6:20, 94-92, Celtics: back to back 3’s from Embiid and Redick get Philly back in the game… continuing to hang around.
  • 5:17, 100-94, Celts: back to back 3’s from Tatum and Rozier get the cushion back for the C’s.  Both 3’s came off passes from the post.
    • author’s note: Celtics made a concerted effort to get the ball in the post and work inside out this whole game.  It’s what worked last year in the playoffs and it’s continued to work this year. 
  • 4: 28: “THAT’S A FOUL!!! THAT’S A FOOOOOOOWWWWWUUUUUULLLLLL” – annoying sixers fan
  • 2:06, 102-102 TIE GAME: Embiid hits Horford with a quick post move into the paint after the offensive rebound from Simmons.  The big fella hits the and 1 and puts Philly up by 1 with 2 min left. 103-102, Philly.
  • 1:50, 105-103, CELTICS: huuuuuuuge 3 from Hayward after pass out of post from Smart
  • 1:14, 106-104, C’s: Tatum fouls Butler on 3 point line. Jimmy goes 1/3 and a huge opportunity is missed for the Sixers.
  • :50, 106-104, C’s: after the Celtic turnover, Philly gets a real chance at stealing this game.  First option is Butler at the top of the key but he gets swallowed up by Tatum and Horford’s length
  • :36, 106-104: the ball finally gets to Embiid in the post with Horford 1 on 1.  Horford stands Embiid up and gets the turnover as the Celtics go the other way.
  • :23.9, 108-104, Celtics: Smart hurtles towards the basket for the game-sealing dunk over Embiid.
  • a couple of free throws and the Celtics come away with a huge win on the road without their best player, Kyrie Irving.

Final Score: 112-109 CELTICS WIN

Boston Celtics v Philadelphia 76ers

Final Thoughts:

  • Player of the Game: Al Horford.  The guy does everything for the Celtics none more so than tonight.  He stopped Embiid defensively and he dished it right back to him on offense finishing with 23 points, 8 boards, 5 assists and 4 steals.
  • Runner-up: Gordon Hayward.  Great game by Hayward tonight as he was a calming and strong presence on the court (26/3/4).  For the first time this season, I really felt he was comfortable with the ball in his hands and attacking.  Can’t wait to see him continue to build and improve his game.
  • Overall: a fantastic game from the Celtics but not totally surprising.  We have owned Philly the last few years even with the roster turnover they’ve experienced.   Also, the game was a big, nationally televised event.  The Celtics have never failed to get up and play for one of those games but it’s the games that aren’t broadcasted nationally that we need to pick up our play.

C’s UP!

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