Different Continent, Same Problem for Sixers

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

Boston 114, Philadelphia 103 – Box Score

You can cross an entire ocean, but sometimes, there’s no distance you can travel to escape your troubles. The Sixers were enjoying a fun week in London, visiting historic sights, attending soccer matches, and instructing international children on the game of basketball. With the announcing team, local media, and families all along for the ride, Philadelphia brought plenty of baggage across the pond. Unfortunately, there was one thing the team wishes hadn’t made the trip: their propensity for blowing double-digit leads.

The main event of the London trip was obviously Thursday night’s game against the Celtics (it was mid-afternoon back here in the States). And it started off swimmingly. J.J. Redick was on fire early, scoring 18 of his 22 points and hitting 5 of his 6 three-point attempts in the first half. Ben Simmons was aggressive early, going 6-9 from the field in the first half, even taking some mid-range jumpers; he finished the game with 16 points on 8-12 shooting.

One of those Simmons jumpers fell through with 7 minutes left in the second quarter to put the Sixers up by 22, 49-27. That’s when things started to go sideways. Amazingly, Boston actually entered play 7-5 in games they trailed by 13 or more points. The Sixers, of course, have a bustling side hustle blowing double-digit leads. So when the Celtics fought back to close to within 9 at the half, even the most optimistic of Sixers fans had a sinking feeling in their gut as to where this one was headed.

Boston wouldn’t waste any time taking the lead a few minutes into the second half, finishing a 42-19 stretch that Boston would only continue to build upon in creating a double-digit lead of its own. I’d like to say there was one area I could point to that the team could fix to have preventing the collapse, but really, it was just overall terrible basketball. Philadelphia turned the ball over repeatedly, allowed too many offensive rebounds, and couldn’t make a shot of their own. I suppose we can take solace that this came against the top dog in the East who has now won 7 straight. The huge second half downfalls to Portland or Sacramento were harder to make sense of in retrospect.

Other Thoughts:

  • Two games does not make a trend, but it’s interesting that two of Joel Embiid’s worst offensive games have come against Boston. Embiid finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists, but shot just 6-17 from the field. In the second game of the season, Embiid went 4-16 against the Celtics. I don’t know if it’s Boston having bruising centers like Aron Baynes to throw at him, or just that the Celtics are a great defensive team, but it’s something to keep an eye on next week when the teams meet again.
  • As things tend to do in a rivalry such as this one, a scuffle broke out when Marcus Morris charged at Ben Simmons after the rookie tried to bust through him on a screen. Good for Simmons in keeping his cool here and just smirking. Some people don’t like that Simmons is such a quiet, even-keeled guy, but it worked in his favor in this instance.

The Sixers will have a tough time removing the bitter taste of defeat from their mouths in the immediate future. They have the long flight back to the States, before returning to the court on Monday against Toronto and their fourth and final game of the season against Boston later in the week.


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