Celtics

Celtics vs. 76ers Overreactions: Jayson Tatum's absence is glaring

Celtics

The Boston Celtics suffered their second straight loss to the Philadelphia 76ers and third consecutive loss overall Friday night, 122-110.

Once again, Joel Embiid proved to be too much for the C's to handle. After getting to the free-throw line 21 times in Wednesday's game, Embiid had 13 free-throw attempts Friday and finished with 38 points to go with 11 rebounds.

Jaylen drops 42, but C's come up short again vs. Sixers

Jaylen Brown was the bright spot for Boston in the loss. The 24-year-old continued his outstanding season with 42 points to tie his career-high. 

Here are three instant overreactions to the Celtics' defeat:

1. The Celtics really miss Jayson Tatum.

The C's began their season 7-3, and now they're 8-6 after missing Tatum the last four games due to health and safety protocols. There's no doubt the 22-year-old's absence has been glaring.

As great as Brown has been, it clearly isn't enough when going up against top teams like the 76ers. It isn't exactly breaking news that Tatum's absence hurts, but it just goes to show the Celtics are a shell of themselves when their superstar forward is forced to miss time.

Fortunately for Boston, Tatum could be back in the Celtics lineup as soon as Sunday. However, head coach Brad Stevens says Tatum won't get his usual playing time right out of the gate.

Verdict: Not an overreaction

2. The Sixers have the Celtics' number.

Sure, the 76ers took care of the Celtics in both of this week's matchups, but let's see what happens when Boston is back at full strength.

 

As mentioned above, Tatum's return will make all the difference. Plus, Kemba Walker looking more like himself these last couple of games is an encouraging sign. The 30-year-old point guard dropped 19 points in both games vs. Philly.

When Tatum, Brown, and Walker are finally back on the court together, the Sixers and the rest of the East will be put on notice. For now, Philly owns the top spot in the conference while the Celtics slide down to fourth place.

Verdict: Overreaction

3. Payton Pritchard's injury could be a major blow.

No one expected Pritchard to make such a tremendous impact off the bench for the Celtics in his rookie campaign, but here we are. The No. 26th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft has been a major spark plug for Boston this season, which makes the knee injury he suffered in Friday night's loss an absolute bummer.

If Pritchard is forced to miss an extended period of time, that's a huge blow to a Celtics second unit that needed all the help it could get heading into the season. As of now, the C's are calling it a right knee sprain. We'll find out more about the severity of the injury in the coming days.

Verdict: Not an overreaction

Next up is a matchup vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers at TD Garden Sunday night at 7 p.m. ET.