September 21, 2023

A Failure or a Step to Success? — 76ers vs. Celtics Series Recap


BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - MAY 14: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts on the bench against the Boston Celtics during the third quarter in game seven of the 2023 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals at TD Garden on May 14, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Uncertainty looms in Philadelphia after the 76ers blew the Eastern Conference Semifinals to the Boston Celtics in 7 games. They will look to come back swinging next year and try to make it to their first Conference Finals appearance in what will then be 23 years.

So what went wrong in this year’s series?

Doc Rivers Inability to Adjust

A clear issue that came up for the Sixers was Doc Rivers being unable to adjust his lineups. In key moments of the series, Rivers would make very questionable decisions when making substitutions. This was clear when Danuel House Jr. would be in the game to close out halves. With all due respect to House, he should not be in the game in these big moments in playoff games. Another example is when Boston went on a 24-3 run against the Sixers in Game 7. This is inexcusable and major adjustments should be made immediately when this happens. But no, Doc chose to keep the lineup almost exactly the same and didn’t change the way they ran their defense. That’s what lost the series. If Doc would have just adjusted the plays and lineup, Philly might just be in the ECF.

James Harden Being the X-Factor

While it’s always nice to have one of your players put up 40 and 10, that shouldn’t be what it takes to get a win. When Harden played bad, the Sixers lost. Now don’t get me wrong, James Harden is a great basketball player, but he is not the man that I want leading my team. Joel Embiid needed to take over this series, and he simply just didn’t. If Joel Embiid would have stepped up his game and been the X-Factor for Philly, they probably would have won the series. Unfortunately, this did not happen and the 76ers lost in a heartbreaker.

Boston Wanted it More

It was clear in this series that the Celtics just wanted to win more. Boston felt that they had unfinished business, and the Sixers looked like they couldn’t care less if they lost. This was obvious when in Game 6 with about 2 minutes remaining, James Harden and Joel Embiid were walking down the floor like the game was over, but it was only a 9-point game. If we really wanted to win, we would have hustled until the buzzer sounded. Unfortunately for us Sixers fans, we did not play like we wanted to win, so Boston won the series.

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