By Sally Fahey
The Sixers have to put the heartbreaking loss to the Celtics Saturday night in their rearview.
But the Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn won’t let them:
It was Philadelphia looking to make a statement Saturday at Wells Fargo Center after winning 14 of its past 17 games. The 76ers jumped out to a 7-0 lead, led by as many as 9 points in the first half and 15 in the second. Yet, it wasn’t good enough.
Joel Embiid scored 41 points with 12 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 blocked shots. Still not good enough. The 76ers attempted 35 free throws to the Celtics’ 12. Still not good enough.
This nationally televised showcase was hyped as an opportunity for the 76ers to prove they belonged among the Celtics and Bucks as the elite teams in the Eastern Conference.
And as many aforementioned advantages they had, including a putrid offensive night from Tatum, they fell short.
“If we won by 40 tonight, what does that mean?” 76ers coach Doc Rivers said before the game. “If we don’t win, what does that mean? It means tonight we were not good enough. There’s some nights where you are good enough and you just don’t perform well enough. But you do want to play well against them.
“They are the team to beat in the East. They won the East, so that’s the team you have to beat, so the more you do that, the better it is for you.”
The 76ers have proven formidable at home and when facing inferior opponents but against the likes of the Celtics and Bucks, they need someone besides Embiid and James Harden to respond. That’s been their biggest issue.