James Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers look to take a 2-0 lead tonight after they defeated the Celtics in Game 1 119-115. Philadelphia found a way to win a tough away game without the MVP, Joel Embiid, but Boston is going to come prepared for Game 2, even with Embiid making his return. Doc Rivers may have to draw something different up for this game.
The biggest issue Philadelphia had in Game 1 was the inability to guard Jayson Tatum. Not having Embiid on the court made it so there was no one to contain him. For most of the game, Tobias Harris had the task of guarding Tatum and it did not go well. The Celtics forward scored 39 points shooting 56% from the field and 80% from 3. He easily was able to drive past Harris and shoot over Paul Reed for easy lays. If Philly wants to keep winning these tough games against Boston, then Tobias Harris needs to step up in his defense. However, if Joel Embiid plays tonight like he is expected to, this problem may be an easy fix.
Something that was going well for the Sixers was our ability to use Harden and Maxey to their fullest. James Harden scored 45 points in Game 1, which was a career-high for him in postseason games. 3 of his 45 points came when he drilled the game-winning step-back 3 over former 76er, Al Horford. Keeping Harden as the number one option in Game 2 might be the right move, as even though Embiid might play, preventing him from re-aggravating his knee would be ideal. Tyrese Maxey scored 26 points and stayed aggressive all game, which helped lead Philly to the win. He used his speed to his advantage and his specialty in this game was fast-break points. If he can continue to dominate on the fast break, he will be very difficult to defend.
You can watch tonight’s game at 8:00 P.M. EST on TNT.