Not having Isaiah Thomas inevitably meant a lot more Al Horford offensively.
And the 6-foot-10 big man didn’t disappoint, tallying 27 points – the most he has scored as a Celtic – through three quarters of play.
But in the pivotal fourth quarter, Horford was a non-factor offensively in Boston’s 105-99 loss at Philadelphia.
It seemed that the Celtics gravitated away from doing the things that helped them pull ahead by as many as 13 points, chief among them was playing almost exclusively through Horford who also had eight rebounds, six assists and two blocked shots along with his 27 points.
Celtics guard Avery Bradley acknowledged that they should have made getting Horford the ball a bigger priority in the fourth, especially how well he had played through the first three quarters of the game.
“It was like we were playing 1-on-1 basketball,” Bradley told reporters after the loss. “We weren’t sharing the basketball. We had a lot of guys who stepped up; we just stopped playing the right way. They came back, they started hitting shots. … we dug ourselves a hole and couldn’t get back.”
And while Horford is quick to credit opponents win or lose, he was asked about what happened in the fourth when he was scoreless despite having already scored 27 points.
“I don’t think it was so much them,” Horford told reporters. “We probably got away from running some of the offensive stuff we ran earlier in the game. We just did some different looks. That’s how we lost.”
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Sunday’s loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Al Horford: He was Mr. Do-It-All for the Celtics, tallying a season-high 27 points on 11-for-16 shooting with eight rebounds and six assists.
Dario Saric: Lots of big plays down the stretch were made by Saric who is looking more and more like this year’s rookie of the year award winner. He had a team-high 23 points on 10-for-20 shooting with six rebounds and four assists.
Robert Covington: Lots of big shots to start the game, with a few more in the end. He finished with 16 points on 7-for-15 shooting with eight rebounds and a blocked shot.
Terry Rozier: He pushed the pace early and often, and finished with one of his better games this season. He had a double-double of 14 points on 4-for-12 shooting along with 10 rebounds.
Sixers Bench: It seemed whoever they turned to, became a major problem at some point for the Celtics. They combined to score 49 points, but even more significant washow their backup bigs Richaun Holmes (11 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four blocked shots) and Shawn Long (eight points, three rebounds) made huge contributions at both ends of the floor.
Celtics’ 3-point shooting: There were plenty of good looks for Boston, but we’ve seen how bad those looks are if Isaiah Thomas isn’t on the floor. After making at least 10 3’s in 26 straight games, Boston has failed to do so each of the last two games which just so happens to be games in which Isaiah Thomas (knee) did not play. Coincidence? Of course not. With or without Thomas, shooting 20.7 percent (6-for-29) isn’t going to be good enough to beat many teams.