By Michael Grimm

The Sixers lost game 1 to the Celtics Monday night 109-101 as Joel Embiid took only 15 shots and scored 26 points to go with his 16 rebounds and two steals.

Rest assured he will take more than 15 tonight in game 2:

Date/Time: August 19, 6:30 p.m. ET

TV Coverage: TNT

Opening Odds: Celtics -4 1/2 | O/U 216 (Line History)

Early money backed the Celtics on Monday as Boston closed as 6.5-point chalk after opening as -3.5 favorites. Bettors have had a change of heart for Game 2, however, moving the line down to Celtics -4.5 as of Tuesday night. The UNDER has also seen support, moving the total down to 214.5, after the teams combined for 210 points Monday.

Embiid had his way offensively early on Monday, hitting his first five shots for 11 points in the opening seven minutes. But Boston tightened its interior defense after that, harassing the Philadelphia center into five turnovers in the contest and allowing him to hit just three of 10 shots in the last three quarters.

In fact, Embiid didn’t manage a single field goal in the final 11:36 of regulation, keying Boston’s 34-20 run to close the game.

Embiid has vowed to be more aggressive on tonight, but Philly will also need to do a much better job distributing the ball in the absence of injured point guard Ben Simmons. Boston won the turnover battle 18-7 and outscored the Sixers 21-7 off those opportunities. The Celtics also enjoyed an 18-8 advantage in fast-break points.

The Celtics anticipated they might lose Gordon Hayward at some point during the NBA playoffs, but they never thought it would be this soon — or for this long. Hayward, who had told reporters he would leave the bubble temporarily in September to be present for the birth of his fourth child, suffered a Grade 3 right ankle sprain in Monday’s series opener and is projected to miss up to four weeks.

The Celtics wing averaged nearly 19 points per game during the seeding round. Defensive specialist Marcus Smart is expected to take Hayward’s place in the starting lineup, but that weakens a Celtics bench that was outscored 23-8 by Philadelphia’s reserves in Game 1.

Bench points may not matter if Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown continue to light up the Sixers from outside. The duo combined to score 61 points on Monday, knocking down seven of 13 shots from behind the arc, as Boston improved to a sizzling 13-2-1 ATS in its last 16 first-round playoff games.


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