June 7, 2023

Who will step up? — 76ers @ Celtics Game 1 Preview


Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

With the Sixers heading to Boston for game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, and Joel Embiid being out for game 1, the Sixers should have a similar mindset as the Phillies did in their playoff run. Split on the road and get home.

While obviously, a 2-0 lead would be the ideal scenario for the Sixers, with Embiid out for game 1, they have to leave Boston with at least the series tied up. The Sixers have famously struggled in the first game of the second round, but hopefully, that trend will end tonight.
While Embiid is out for game 1, there is some optimism that he will be available for game 2.

With Embiid out, the focus of this game now goes on James Harden and Tyrese Maxey. Part of the reason Harden was brought to Philadelphia was for moments like these. In the past when Embiid has been injured in the postseason his costars never stepped up. That needs to change this series. Harden has a reputation for coming up short in the postseason, but he has a chance to change that narrative in this series. After a week and a half of rest, there are no excuses for him to not have a great game tonight.

Tyrese Maxey is another costar that has to step up tonight and in this series. The Celtics have done a great job defending Maxey so far this season, holding him to just 10 points per game. The Celtics have great permitter defenders in Marcus Smart and Derrick White, who have been able to keep Maxey in check. The Sixers coaching staff is going to have to find ways to get Maxey favorable matchups on offense, and he has to be a dominant force in transition.

While of course, Paul Reed is no Joel Embiid, he just has to bring his infectious energy to the game tonight. He was crucial in the Sixers’ closeout win against the Nets, and that’s all they need from him tonight. The Celtics do not have a dominant Center, so hopefully B-Ball Paul can dominate on the boards.

Game 1 will tip off at 7:30 pm EST on TNT.

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