Joel Embiid’s Sixers Regrouping Before Pivotal Game 7 vs. Celtics

Philadelphia 76ers, Joel Embiid, James Harden, Doc Rivers, NBA News
NBA Analysis Network

The Philadelphia 76ers were given a golden opportunity in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Boston Celtics. Up 3-2, the 76ers were at home with a chance to close out the NBA playoff series. Unfortunately for them, they fell flat.

Boston ended up winning the game 95-86 as Jayson Tatum got hot late in the fourth quarter after an abysmal start to the game. Tatum knocked down four of his five shots in the final 4:14 of the game, all 3-pointers, to will his team to victory. He scored 16 out of his 19 points in the final quarter, outsourcing the 76ers, who had only 13 points, by himself.

Now, the 76ers will have to head on the road again for Game 7 on Sunday. Philadelphia has not been phased about playing on the road, winning two games in Beantown already this series so they know what it will take to get a third.

“We know what we got to do,” said Embiid. “We’ve gone on the road and we’ve won. It’s not going to be easy in that environment, but it’s the same thing. Everybody has to step up, starting with me. I got to be more aggressive, as far as shooting and making sure I get my teammates looks and everybody else has to do their job and everybody has to show up.

“But it’s going to be fun. Game 7 … that’s why you play, for these types of games. Tonight was pretty tough, but we know how much better we could have been. … We’ve got to respond, and got to go win.”

NBA NEWS & PLAYOFFS: Joel Embiid, James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers & Boston Celtics Updates

Embiid scored 26 points in the game to go along with 10 rebounds and one assist, one block and three steals. Tyrese Maxey also scored 26 points, as he and Embiid were the only consistent producers on offense for Philadelphia.

James Harden had a rough night shooting the ball, going 4-of-16 from the field and 0-for-6 on 3-pointers. He was unable to have a burst like Tatum provided, which ultimately pushed the Celtics ahead for good at the end.

“I’m not going to look at my shooting percentage,” said Harden. “I did a lot of really good things offensively. … They packed the paint, so they’re forcing us to make shots. It’s not a hard game. I’m not going to force it.”

NBA NEWS & PLAYOFFS: Joel Embiid, James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers & Boston Celtics Updates

Harden wasn’t the only player who struggled with his shot in Game 6. Overall the 76ers shot 36.1 percent from the field and 23.5 percent on 3-pointers, going 8-of-34. Boston won the game from behind the arc, as they shot 15-of-35 to force Game 7.

“I don’t think we trusted very well,” 76ers coach Doc Rivers said. “We had a lot of wide-open 3s. We didn’t make them. I didn’t like how we played overall offensively down the stretch. Got to play through the big fella more. Didn’t think the ball went there [enough].”

Part of the reason that the ball may not have gone through Embiid as often is that the Celtics changed their lineup. They went with Robert Williams III and Al Horford in the starting five, which is the same combination they rode last season to an NBA Finals appearance.

NBA NEWS & PLAYOFFS: Joel Embiid, James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers & Boston Celtics Updates

That kind of change leads to the 76ers needing to make some adjustments as well. However, Embiid doesn’t believe Boston going with two bigs in the starting five is what derailed his team.

“It didn’t affect us,” Embiid said. “We missed a lot of wide-open looks tonight. I’ll take them. Got to keep shooting them. There’s a reason why they went to that double big, to have someone to protect the rim and he was pulling over every single time. So that’s where we got to have that trust and keep moving the ball and finding guys and trusting each other and keep taking those shots. I thought we had a lot of good opportunities and we just got to convert them.”

Philadelphia now heads back on the road for a winner takes all Game 7 matchup. With rumors already swirling about potential changes coming to the roster this offseason, the 76ers will be motivated to get a win on the road and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.

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