Thirteen first-half turnovers and a combined 61 points from Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown sunk the Sixers on Monday in a 109-101 Game 1 loss to the Celtics.
They’ll look to even the series on Wednesday night. Here are the essentials:
When: 6:30 p.m. with Sixers Pregame Live at 5:30 p.m. Where: The Field House at The Wide World of Sports Complex Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia Plus Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app
And here are three storylines to watch:
Time for adjustments
“Adjustments” is always a buzzword after a playoff loss. This time, Gordon Hayward’s series-ending right ankle injury creates a new wrinkle.
How will Boston’s rotation change? Matisse Thybulle is certainly going to retain a major role and guard Tatum after defending the All-Star wing well in his playoff debut, but will he start in place of Al Horford? Will the Sixers stick with dropping Joel Embiid on pick-and-rolls and also having him let Celtics centers shoot three-pointers whenever they’d like? If so, will Boston counter by making a more concerted effort to run pick-and-rolls involving Embiid and taking a higher volume of pull-up threes?
We’ll get a sense early in the game of how both Brad Stevens and Brett Brown are adjusting to Hayward’s injury and what tweaks they’ve made after Game 1.
While the idea of getting your best player the ball in his favorite areas as much as possible sounds intuitive, the Sixers’ post offense around Embiid is a nuanced subject.
Brown is looking for more variety and fluidity in how the Sixers get Embiid the ball, plus more precision in their entry passes.
“I think the thing with Joel that interests me the most is anything that’s slow, anything that’s static, is easier for them to guard Joel Embiid,” he said Tuesday. “And so I want to get him there as much as you can, just not the way sometimes it was done. It was too easy to tee off on him. You could roll him into the post, you could elbow isolation, let him play a back down.
“But to just always plunk him there, and it’s slow and static, it doesn’t help anybody. And I said that (Monday) night and I stand by it. It doesn’t minimize the volume of touches or the frequency that we want him in the paint area, it’s just how are you going to do it?”
Embiid had 26 points and 16 rebounds in Game 1, along with five of the Sixers’ 18 turnovers.
Spotlight on Horford
Matchups against Daniel Theis and Enes Kanter are clearly better for Embiid than if he had to square off against Horford in this series. Horford no longer being a Celtic, however, isn’t enough to lift the Sixers over the 34-year-old’s former team.
If Boston is going to stick with small lineups, he needs to score inside when there’s no help defense. He had six points in 31 minutes on Monday, was a game-worst minus-18 and had six assists and three turnovers.
“Offensively, I thought that some stuff … just making sound passes out of the post was a C-minus,” Brown said. “Al was amongst that group. And we hope to help him more with just better spacing around where he knows where his outlets are when people come to double team him.