By Mary Cunningham
Kyrie Irving had 20 points and the Boston Celtics overcame a 22-point deficit to beat the Sixers 114-103 in the eighth regular season NBA game played in England.
Jaylen Brown added 21 points, and Marcus Morris had 19 points and eight rebounds to help the Celtics extend their winning streak to seven games.
JJ Redick had 22 points and hit five 3-pointers for the Sixers, but they were unable to take advantage of their fast start as the Celtics’ NBA-best defense tightened at O2 Arena.
Joel Embiid had 16 points, and fellow All-Star hopeful Ben Simmons added 15 for the 76ers.
“This team that we just played today is the best defensive team in the NBA and we felt all of that,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said. “When you look at their individual defensive players to a man, they’re as strong positionally as any team in the NBA.”
Irving and Embiid struggled early, going a combined 1 for 10 from the field in the first quarter. Despite ending the quarter pointless, Embiid was able to make an impact on defense, notably swatting away Irving’s attempted layup.
Embiid and Simmons helped out Redick at the start of the second and the 76ers made their first nine shots of the quarter to open the 22-point lead with 6:56 remaining in the quarter.
However, Irving finally made a 3, sparking a strong Celtics finish to the half as they closed to 57-48.
Having been outshone by fellow Rookie Of The Year contender Simmons in the first half, Jayson Tatum began the second half hot, making his first five shots to bring the Celtics within a point.
The Celtics took their first lead midway through the third quarter, and soon took control as Morris and fellow reserve Marcus Smart stretched the lead.
Irving returned early in the fourth and was fouled making a trademark driving layup and made the free throw to give the Celtics a 105-88 advantage midway through the quarter, all but ending the contest.