BOSTON — The Sixers opened the Eastern Conference semifinals Monday with a 117-101 loss to the Celtics at TD Garden.
In the question of would more or less time between series be the advantage, it was the Sixers who started off slow while the Celtics came out fiery. The Sixers had nearly a week without games after eliminating the Heat last Tuesday. The Celtics, on the other hand, played Game 7 against the Bucks Saturday night.
The Sixers didn’t make their mark on this game and played catch-up most of the way. They trailed by as many as 19 points, including eight in the first quarter and 13 in the second. The Sixers had imposed their style of play on the Heat in Round 1, but this time they were left trying to keep within striking distance of the Celtics.
• Terry Rozier does not plan on cooling off in the postseason. Following a 26-point Game 7, Rozier knocked down seven threes for a team-high 29 points.
• The Sixers entered the series well aware Al Horford could be a problem for them. The veteran center has a versatile game, playing the four and the five, with plenty of playoff experience on top of it. Horford scored 26 points with seven rebounds and four assists.
• Ben Simmons averaged nine assists in the first round. On Monday, he dished six while committing seven turnovers (18 points, seven rebounds). Celtics fans took a jab at him by chanting “Not a rookie” during the game. Simmons, who is a rookie, has received criticism in his push for Rookie of the Year because he spent last year with the Sixers while injured and not playing. The fans later yelled “He’s a rookie” when Jayson Tatum was at the line. The Celtics drafted Tatum third overall after trading the first pick to the Sixers, which they used to select Markelle Fultz. Tatum dropped 28 points, including 11 of 12 shooting at the line.
• Joel Embiid led all players with 31 points and 13 rebounds, becoming the first Sixer with at least 30 points and 10 boards in the playoffs since Allen Iverson did it on June 10, 2001. Embiid also is the first Sixer to score 30 points in the postseason since Andre Miller on April 22, 2009. He has to wear his mask until he is fully healed, which he continues to try getting used to on the court.
• Jaylen Brown was sidelined because of right hamstring strain, but the Celtics did not struggle to make up for his absence. Marcus Smart got the start in his place and the team collectively accounted for Brown’s postseason average of 17.9 points per game.
• The Celtics are not shy to take threes. They push the ball and find an open player who’s eager to pull up from long range. The Celtics shot 17 for 36 while the Sixers were a mere 5 for 26 beyond the arc. Robert Covington and Dario Saric were a combined 0 for 8.
• The Sixers will have two days of practice before Game 2 to make adjustments. Game 2 is set for 8:30 p.m. on Thursday night.