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A look back at Sixers' regular-season series with Celtics

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A look back at Sixers' regular-season series with Celtics

The Sixers' wait is finally over. They will face the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals, with Game 1 getting started Monday at 8 p.m. at TD Garden.

Let's dive into the regular-season series and see exactly how we got here.

Game 1: Oct. 20, Celtics win (102-92)
The Sixers didn't have to wait long to face their hated rival as their first meeting of the season came in the 2017-18 home opener.

It appeared the Sixers were on the way to victory No. 1 of the season before being outscored 33-20 in the fourth quarter. Kyrie Irving recorded seven of his game-high 21 points over the final 4:57 of regulation to close it out for the Celtics.

On the flip side, the Sixers were ice cold on offense all night long. Joel Embiid was the main culprit, shooting just 4 of 16 for 11 points in 28 minutes.

"My three-point shot is trash, so I've got to work on that," he said prior to going 0 for 6 in the loss.

Game 2: Nov. 30, Celtics win (108-97)
Another Irving takeover.

The Celtics' All-Star point guard dominated the Sixers with 36 points in 33 minutes, including nine in the fourth quarter. Irving was on target all night, going 12 for 21 from the field and 5 for 8 from three-point range.

"It's go time, man," Irving said of the fourth quarter. "Especially when the game is in the balance. It's the best time to play. It's just ultimate freedom."

That performance proved to be the difference for the Celtics against a shorthanded Sixers team that was missing Embiid on the second night of a back-to-back set along with T.J. McConnell and Markelle Fultz to injuries.

Game 3: Jan. 11, Celtics win (114-103)
Not even a trip across the pond could help the Sixers escape their issues playing with a lead from earlier this season.

In a showcase as part of the NBA's Global Games in London, the Sixers managed to blow a 22-point lead in spectacular fashion in one of their toughest defeats.

A Ben Simmons jumper put the Sixers up 49-27 with 6:56 remaining in the second quarter. The Celtics trimmed that margin to nine points prior to halftime. The C's controlled everything from that point, outscoring the Sixers 66-46 after intermission.

"They just made a run and we didn't do anything about it, didn't execute plays, didn't get rebounds, didn't get stops," Simmons said. "I think that's what it came down to."  

Game 4: Jan. 18, Sixers win (89-80)
After getting word that he would be an All-Star starter, Embiid went out and showed the Celtics why in the regular-season series finale.

The center put up 26 points, 16 rebounds, six assists and two blocks in the victory.

How did Embiid turn in such a dominating effort after struggling against Boston in the previous meetings? Part of it was to send a specific message in case these two teams did end up squaring off in the postseason.

"I don't know what seed we are going to be, but that's a potential matchup in the playoffs," Embiid said. "We always want to come out and try to dominate and let them know that it's not going to be easy."

Different teams
And now here we stand with two teams that have actually changed drastically since they last played each other over three months ago. 

The Sixers revamped their bench with the additions of Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova. Meanwhile, the Celtics are without Irving as backup PG Terry Rozier and sophomore swingman Jaylen Brown now lead the way.

So with that said, buckle up for a renewal of one of the NBA's greatest rivalries

2020 NBA schedule: Sixers set to play 3 scrimmages before season resumes

2020 NBA schedule: Sixers set to play 3 scrimmages before season resumes

The NBA on Saturday released its scrimmage schedule for the 22 teams participating in the league’s restart in Orlando. 

The Sixers are set to play three scrimmages:

July 24, 3:30 p.m. — Grizzlies
July 26, 12 p.m. — Thunder
July 28, 8:30 p.m. — Mavericks

The scrimmages are intended to serve as a final ramp-up into the resumption of the season. The Sixers, who began holding mandatory individual workouts at their practice facility in Camden, New Jersey, starting on Wednesday, are scheduled to arrive at Disney World next Thursday.

Brett Brown said Wednesday he’d like his team to be at a “B” fitness base that he can help improve to an “A” by the time seeding games start. It’s been challenging for many players to stay in shape because of restrictions related to the coronavirus. Matisse Thybulle, for one, said Thursday he doesn’t like running but it was his “only choice.”

"It’s obviously not basketball-type conditioning,” Thybulle said, “but it kept me at a cardio fitness level to where now that we’ve come back and started, and I’ve started doing my basketball workouts, I have a really solid baseline to build off.”

The hiatus has allowed Ben Simmons to recover from the back injury that sidelined him for the Sixers’ last eight games, and Simmons noted he's added muscle and feels more explosive.

Al Horford also said, “I probably wasn’t where I wanted to be this season” in terms of health, and that the time off has been helpful for him. 

Below is the Sixers’ schedule for the final eight games:

Aug. 1, 7 p.m.: Indiana
Aug. 3, 8 p.m: San Antonio
Aug. 5, 4 p.m.: Washington
Aug. 7, 6:30 p.m.: Orlando
Aug. 9, 6:30 p.m.: Portland
Aug. 11, 4:30 p.m.: Phoenix
Aug. 12, 6:30 p.m.: Toronto 
Aug. 14: Houston 

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How bubbly Matisse Thybulle is taking things in stride during bizarre rookie year

How bubbly Matisse Thybulle is taking things in stride during bizarre rookie year

Matisse Thybulle was his usual bubbly self Friday. The Sixers’ rookie literally hopped — like he actually jumped into his seat — on a video conference call with reporters. He signed off by calling all of us nerds.

The 2019 first-round pick was having a standout first season before play was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic. Though his playing time had fluctuated, head coach Brett Brown said earlier in the season that he was grooming the young wing for the playoffs.

Still, Thybulle won’t take anything for granted as the team prepares to leave for the Disney World “bubble” next week.

“For me, every time I get out on the court, it’s a challenge to maintain, to keep my spot on the team,” Thybulle said. “And then with keeping the spot, you can never be stagnant.”

On opening night, Thybulle was asked to defend All-Star guard Kemba Walker. Walker had given the Sixers problems in the past and the rookie didn’t get off to a great start, committing two quick fouls. As the game went on, Thybulle settled in and showed the defensive prowess the Sixers drafted him for.

All season long, Thybulle has done well to take things as they come during a bizarre rookie year. He’s planning to take that same mentality to Florida.

Nobody really knows what’s going to happen," Thybulle said, "nobody really knows what to expect, or how things are going to go, or what anybody or any team looks like. Instead of setting expectations for myself or what I think the experience is going to be like, it’s been just trying to take each new step of this process as a new challenge, and then figuring out, when I get there, how I’m going to get through it.

"If you want to look at all the unknowns, you’ll just go crazy. Taking what I know and what I can control and trying to make the best out of that.

What we know about Thybulle is he has a propensity for disruption on the defensive end. He leads all rookies in steals — by a healthy margin — and is fifth in blocks. He’s one of only eight players in the NBA to have at least 80 steals and 40 blocks.

In order to get so many deflections and wreak havoc defensively, you need to be in top shape. If you’ve seen Thybulle’s Tik Tok adventures from early in the quarantine, you know that he lives in a small apartment and didn’t have the opportunity to keep up with basketball activities.

So, he turned to the only form of exercise he thought could help — even if he didn’t enjoy it.

“I don’t like running. I really don’t like it,” Thyulle said. “But through the quarantine, it was like my only choice. ... It’s obviously not basketball-type conditioning, but it kept me at a cardio fitness level to where now that we’ve come back and started, and I’ve started doing my basketball workouts, I have a really solid baseline to build off. In a matter of two weeks, I feel like I’ve gotten back into really good shape and I think it’s going to be easier to build on after this.”

Thybulle has been given a bunch of tough assignments this season. While he’s looked like a rookie at times, when he’s kept his fouls down and his three-point percentage up, you see a player that should be able to help come the postseason.

And in a year where nobody knows what the NBA playoffs will be like, it could be to the rookie’s advantage during his first postseason run.

“I think what I’ve heard about the playoffs is a little different than what the playoffs are going to look like this year,” Thybulle said. “Obviously, I’ve heard amazing things. Especially playing in Philly, I’ve heard so many great things about having our fans behind us.

"We’re finding ourselves in a situation where that’s not going to be the case, so I think it’s going to be new for everyone, even vets who have been part of the playoffs, trying to get a feel for what this is going to be like. But I’m open to the challenge and I’m excited for what’s in store.”

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