June 7, 2023

A decider? — 76ers vs. Celtics Game 5 Preview


Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid (21) and P.J. Tucker celebrate during overtime of Game 4 in an NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinals playoff series against the Boston Celtics, Sunday, May 7, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

James Harden and the Sixers will take on Jaylen Brown and the Celtics tonight at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts in Game 5 of the Eastern Semifinals.

Philadelphia is coming off of a thrilling overtime win in Philadelphia on Sunday Afternoon, where James Harden had an astounding 42 points.

Harden may have been the main reason for the Game 4 win, but what will be necessary to win Game 5?

Tobias Harris Stepping Up Defensively

Tobias Harris has been very mediocre in this series. He has had the main job of guarding and maintaining Jayson Tatum. In Game 1, Harris let Tatum score 39 points and snag 11 rebounds. In Game 3, Tatum scored 27 and 10. Most recently in Game 4, Harris let up 24 and 18, but his plus-minus was +14. If the Sixers want to take down Boston, Harris needs to do a much better job in containing Jayson Tatum, or else they likely will grab fewer rebounds and score fewer points.

James Harden and Joel Embiid Staying Hot

Both James Harden and Joel Embiid had an incredible Game 4. Harden had an unbelievable 42 points, 9 assists, and 8 rebounds, including the game-winner in overtime. It has been clear in this series that James Harden will make or break a Philadelphia win. In Games 1 and 4, Harden had over 40 points and hit the game-winning shot with only seconds to spare.

However, in Games 2 and 3, Harden scored less than 25 points combined and he shot 3 for 14 in Game 3. Both of these games ended in a Boston victory.

Joel Embiid shook off the rust from his 13-day absence due to a knee injury in Game 2 when Philly was crushed by Boston, losing by 34 points. He showed up for Game 3 when he scored 30 points and put up 13 rebounds with 4 blocks. Even though Philly lost this game by 12, it was clear that it was not Embiid’s fault, but rather the teammates around him. The Process took his MVP award that he was given at Game 3 and showed everyone why he deserved it in Game 4. He put up an impressive 34 points and once again 13 rebounds. His knee is no longer affecting his play and he is back in business. If both Embiid and James Harden can stay hot, Game 5 will be a very fun game to watch for Sixers fans.

P.J. Tucker’s Attitude

P.J. Tucker might not put up the same numbers as Joel Embiid or James Harden, but he does something that does not show up in the box score. Tucker has the attitude that Doc Rivers needs. The Philadelphia Power Forward will not let anybody’s head get to them. If he sees one of his teammates letting their head get to them, he will let them have it, no matter who they are. This was clear when with about a minute left in the 4th quarter of Game 4, screamed into the NBA MVP’s ear, letting him know that they don’t have time to be upset or mad at themselves, they only have time to play winning basketball.

P.J. Tucker makes his teammates around him better, and if Philly wants to win this game, he needs to keep his demeanor the same.

Game 5 will be on at 7:30 P.M. EST in Boston. You can watch the game on TNT and listen to it on the radio at 97.5 The Fanatic.

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