By Art Beitchman
In the record-setting 101st playoff game between the Sixers and the Boston Celtics — Monday night’s Eastern semifinal opener — the Sixers “were not ready to play” according to center Joel Embiid.
Jo was right of course.
After a six-day inactive stretch, Philly looked two steps slower than Boston. Embiid went for 31 points and 13 rebounds in the 117-101 defeat in Beantown to the scrappy Celtics.
Defensive rotations were slow or non-existent as the Celtics got anything they wanted all night long. Al Horford went for 26, Jayson Tatum 28, Terry Rozier lit them up for 29 points as they got mismatches on the pick and roll all night on the tardy Sixer defenders.
Robert Covington was extra shaky in his first taste of playoff basketball, contributing a measly 3 points at the foul line, going 0-6 from the field, including 0-4 from 3 point land in an invisible 26 minutes. And he was equally ineffective on defense!
The Celtics held home-court serve as the 2 seed in the East.
Grabbing a game 2 win will be what the Sixers need to keep this nice run of winning rolling. Better 3-point shooting will be essential after 5-26 in game 1.
All’s not lost with the defeat as Vegas is still on the Philly bandwagon installing them as -3.5 favorites for game 2 tonight at the TD Garden, 8pm/TNT.