Embiid Helps Stuff Celtics
Wanna talk about fun? Let's talk about fun.
Thursday was fun. Fun game in a fun rivalry.
Fun result, as the 76ers beat the Boston Celtics, 115-109, at TD Garden to mark the C's first home loss of the season.
You know what else was fun?
Watching Joel Embiid slam and strike a baseline pose.
Seeing the All-Star hit a straightaway three with the game winding down, then uncoil a sweeping uppercut fistpump at centercourt while flexing in front of a muted Boston crowd.
At that point, the Sixers were up eight, 100-92, with four minutes to go. The lead wasn't safe.
The Celtics charged back. There was tension. But in the end, there was also...fun.
After a Boston 3-pointer sliced the Sixers' margin to one, 110-109, with 27.3 left, Embiid again rose to the occasion. First, he hit a pair of free throws to re-establish a three-point lead.
The Celtics then turned the ball over on their ensuing possession, and subsequently were forced to send Embiid back to the line.
This time, the big man split the pair, still significant in a contest as close as Thursday's was.
It was seconds later, however, with Boston's back against the wall, that Embiid put a final, emphatic punctuation on one of his finest performances as a pro, blocking Daniel Theis at the rim with 14.8 seconds remaining.
The Sixers regained possession, the Celtics fouled Embiid again. He went 2-for-2, polishing off a sparkling stat line that featured a season-high 38 points, 13 rebounds, and season-high tying six assists, the latter stat symbolic of how well Embiid handled the rounds of double-teams that came his way.
He was that darn good en route to tallying his highest scoring total ever against the C's.
Fun you say? Embiid was having fun, and it showed in a big way. Beyond his tangible contributions, he also brought increased energy to huddles and the Sixers' halftime locker room.
Brett Brown and teammates alike praised Embiid for his leadership. Recently, the All-Leaguer has spoken frankly about wanting and needing to do more.
Thursday, in a noteworthy battle for third place in the Eastern Conference standings, Embiid backed his talk up with a masterpiece.
There were other highlights along the way to the Sixers' fourth straight victory to be sure. With his club trailing by three points at the break, Tobias Harris tallied 16 of his 23 points in the second half.
Mike Scott also assumed a key role, opening the evening 4-for-4 from three while filling in at the four spot for Al Horford. Scott netted 15 points in his second start of the year.
Matisse Thybulle provided important minutes off the bench, particularly on the defense end. He was one of several players whom the Sixers called upon to keep All-Star Kemba Walker in check with Thursday's game on the line.
But in the end, Embiid left the lasting impression in Thursday's win. The crown jewel certainly shined.
Even if it was nothing more than an iso shot of Al Horford on the Sixers' bench, it was an acknowledgement nonetheless. The Boston crowd obliged, giving the former Celtics big man a nice hand. Horford sat out Thursday's game due to injury (left hamstring, left knee).
Celtics acknowledge Al Horford with an iso shot of him on the bench during first quarter timeout. Gets a nice hand. pic.twitter.com/7xofra8tYE
— brianseltzer (@brianseltzer) December 13, 2019
A demanding stretch of six games in nine days continues Friday for the 76ers, as they complete a road-home back-to-back against the New Orleans Pelicans (6-19). The Pelicans, of course, inked former Sixer JJ Redick this past summer. As of Thursday, the 35-year old sharpshooter ranked 10th in the NBA with a 44.8 3-point field goal percentage. Redick's 78 threes marked the league's eighth-highest total.