By: Kylan Watson
The Philadelphia 76ers entered game 4 of their first-round playoff match-up with the Boston Celtics, with their pride on the line. For the first time in the history of the series with the Celtics they were facing the possibility of being swept. The Sixers put up as much of a fight as they could muster, but they fell to the Celtics again 110-106.
Early in the game the Sixers were hitting their shots from the perimeter, a feat that they had not accomplished in any of the previous games. Forwards Al Horford and Tobias Harris found themselves.
Harris had not hit a three-point basket yet in the series. He hit two three-pointers and was making an impact on both sides of the ball. He scored 20-points and grabbed five rebounds. They really fed off his energy.
Horford also had a good performance against his old team. He was particularly effective when he was able to attack the basket and take advantage of the Celtics lack of size in the paint. He scored 12-points and grabbed 10-rebounds.
Both players provided the lift the Sixers needed to continue to stay in the game and prevented the Celtics defense from stopping center Joel Embiid.
However, despite the fight the Sixers put up they were never able to pull away from the Celtics who took a 12-point lead at the end of the third quarter and did not relinquish it.
The Celtics were able to take advantage of some lazy defensive play by the Sixers. That led to them being able to hit shots from the perimeter. Once the Sixers would press up to stop them from hitting those perimeter shots. They would then attack the basket.
Kemba Walker was particularly deadly at doing this to the Sixers. Walker scored 32-points and the Sixers had no answer for him. These last two games Walker really showed up after the Sixers limited the effectiveness of forward Jayson Tatum.
Walker and Tatum combined for 60-points and were particularly effective in the third quarter after Harris went out because of an injury. Both took advantage of the Sixers not having a rim protector in the paint.
The Celtics will now head to the second round of Eastern Conference Playoffs, and the Sixers will have a lot of issues to solve with their roster. One is the future of head coach Brett Brown?
The other is what to do with this roster. The Sixers had a lot of assets and cap space, and most of that now is being used by the contracts of Horford and Harris.
The one question this series answered is that both Embiid and forward Ben Simmons need each other. When one guy is missing from the roster the team falls apart.
The Sixers will most likely look like an entirely different team come the start of the 2020-21 NBA season. They will need to build a roster that can maximize the talents of Embiid and Simmons.