Muzzled Sixers

By: Kylan Watson

The Philadelphia 76ers traveled to Boston to renew one of the most storied rivalries in basketball to open the 2022-2023 season. Throughout this contest these two juggernauts went blow for blow. However, the Sixers were done in by 16-turnovers that propelled the Celtics to a 126-119 victory.

Philly weathered the early offensive storm from the Celtics. They could not miss to start the game, and the Sixers had no answers for them. Jayson Tatum (35-points) and Jaylen Brown (35-points) got whatever they wanted from the field. It did not matter if they had hands in their faces or were wide-open the result was the same. The ball found the bottom of the net. They combined for 70 of the Celtics 126-points. Philly made some defensive adjustments to try to slow them down. However, when they were able to force them into difficult shots, the defensive stand was overturned by allowing an offensive rebound. Philly will need to tighten up on the defensive end for the next time they see the Celtics. This is the first of a four-game series between these two championships contending teams.

The Sixers were able to find their offensive rhythm throughout this game. They were able to move the ball around and find the open man. James Harden specifically benefitted from this style of play. As he showed signs that his offseason work has paid off at least in this first game. He was able to make Boston pay for daring to leave him room to operate. He scored 35-points and kept the Sixers in this game. At times he was the only offensive threat in this game on the floor for Philly. The Celtics just could not stop him. His refusal to settle allowed him to attack the basket and use his dribble to create space for the three-point shot. If the Sixers get this level of play from Harden every night throughout this season this will unlock the team and will allow them to take the next step on both sides of the ball. Harden will need to continue to improve his defensive capability though. In this game there were times where his defense held up and times where he was slow to get back and Boston was able to attack the basket.

Boston was able to pull away late in this game thanks to forcing the Sixers into 16-turnovers which allowed them to attack the basket. Philly just could not recover from their mistakes which put them in a hole they could not dig their way out of. They did enough to beat the Celtics tonight, but the turnovers and lazy defensive play did them in. The Sixers will need to get better play on both sides of the ball if they want to compete with Boston the next time they meet.

Philly will now prepare for their home opener on Thursday night against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Sixers will need to play a complete game if they want to contain Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Sixers will need to hit their shots and take full advantage of the Bucks aggressive defensive scheme. They will need to find a way to get Joel Embiid going early and often. Additionally, they will need to limit their turnovers if they want to beat the Bucks and make an early claim to being a team that can contend for a championship.

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