Jayson Tatum Drops 26, Celtics Edge 76ers as Joel Embiid Struggles

Doric SamDecember 2, 2021

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 28: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics warms up prior to their NBA game against the Toronto Raptors at Scotiabank Arena on November 28, 2021 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
Cole Burston/Getty Images

The Boston Celtics earned an 88-87 win at home over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night. Jayson Tatum led the way with 26 points and 16 rebounds as Boston improved to 12-10.

Boston Celtics @celtics

THE STEP-BACK βœ…πŸ‘ŒπŸΎ <a href="https://t.co/sktSGktHqM">pic.twitter.com/sktSGktHqM</a>

It was the Celtics' second straight win and fifth victory in their last seven games.

Philadelphia fell to 11-11 after its third loss in four games. Seth Curry had a team-high 17 points for the Sixers. Philadelphia's star big man Joel Embiid was held to 13 points on 3-of-17 shooting.

Notable Player Stats

F Jayson Tatum, BOS: 26 points, 16 rebounds

G Seth Curry, PHI: 17 points

C Joel Embiid, PHI: 13 points (3-of-17 FG), 18 rebounds

Celtics' Interior Players Give Sixers Trouble

Boston's big men came to play on Wednesday. Al Horford and Robert Williams gave Philadelphia fits on both ends of the floor. Their defense on Embiid was a big reason for the Celtics' win.

When he was in the low post, Embiid faced frequent double teams and was forced into either taking a bad shot or giving up the ball. In the first half, Embiid was held to four points on 1-of-9 shooting and Philadelphia had just 12 points in the paint.

Williams did a great job protecting the paint and also outworking the Sixers on the offensive end for easy dunks.

Boston Celtics @celtics

swatted. <a href="https://t.co/rJCINqghe6">pic.twitter.com/rJCINqghe6</a>

Boston Celtics @celtics

HE'S BACK πŸ‘€πŸ”¨ <a href="https://t.co/l4LWMBeK8d">pic.twitter.com/l4LWMBeK8d</a>

Boston Celtics @celtics

caught them sleepin <a href="https://t.co/zmL3EZkX8H">pic.twitter.com/zmL3EZkX8H</a>

Horford also had a strong performance, and he probably had revenge on his mind while playing against his former team. Horford signed a four-year deal with Philadelphia in 2019 and was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder the following year.

gary washburn @GwashburnGlobe

Me thinks Al Horford trying to show <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/76ers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#76ers</a> he wasn't washed. 7pts and 1 blk in opening four minutes. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Celtics?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Celtics</a>

Celtics on NBC Sports Boston @NBCSCeltics

Don't play with Al Horford! 😀 <a href="https://t.co/u19moe125P">pic.twitter.com/u19moe125P</a>

Horford had all five of his blocks through three quarters. Williams got in on the action in the fourth quarter.


Rising up for the REJECTION 🚫<br><br>Robert Williams III says no on <a href="https://twitter.com/NBATV?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NBATV</a>!<a href="https://twitter.com/celtics?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@celtics</a> lead it late: <a href="https://t.co/E0TqX69c2f">https://t.co/E0TqX69c2f</a> <a href="https://t.co/IIy46wihgu">pic.twitter.com/IIy46wihgu</a>

Horford and Williams combined to score 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting. Wednesday's game was a gritty contest dominated by defense, and Boston's big men did enough dirty work on the inside to secure the win.

The Celtics' offense has struggled to find consistency this season, ranking 24th in the NBA with a field goal percentage of 43.5 entering Wednesday. Boston's defense will be key to the team's success going forward, and the interior presence of Horford and Williams could cause problems for opponents if they continue playing like they did against Philadelphia.

Role Players Keep Sixers Afloat While Stars Struggle

It was an ugly game by Philadelphia's star players. Embiid finished with 13 points but made just 17.6 percent of his shots. Tobias Harris and Tyrese Maxey combined for 14 points on 7-of-24 shooting.

Luckily for the Sixers, they got contributions from unlikely sources to keep the game close. Shake Milton scored 14 of his 16 points in the first half to keep Philadelphia in the game. Georges Niang also added 12 points off the bench.

Philadelphia 76ers @sixers

Shake things.πŸ₯€ <a href="https://t.co/kAk4F9tOZI">pic.twitter.com/kAk4F9tOZI</a>

Philadelphia 76ers @sixers

14 PTS | 6-7 FG | 2-3 3FG<a href="https://twitter.com/SniperShake?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@SniperShake</a> in the first half. <a href="https://t.co/Oi8VsVtNwv">pic.twitter.com/Oi8VsVtNwv</a>

Philadelphia 76ers @sixers

Cha-Ching!πŸ’° <a href="https://t.co/tUoY55nlK9">pic.twitter.com/tUoY55nlK9</a>

Curry continued to his efficient start to the season, shooting 7-of-13 and scoring both from the inside and outside.

Philadelphia 76ers @sixers

float game. πŸ’― <a href="https://t.co/MyOCvtd72I">pic.twitter.com/MyOCvtd72I</a>

Philadelphia 76ers @sixers

Curry doing Curry things.πŸ‘Œ <a href="https://t.co/aupjaaw0eB">pic.twitter.com/aupjaaw0eB</a>

But it wasn't enough. Philadelphia was held to 37.1 percent from the field and made just eight of its 31 three-point attempts. 

Embiid is still working his way back from missing time with COVID-19, and his performance against Boston likely will not be the norm going forward. But more concerning for Philadelphia was the play of Harris and Maxey. After a hot stretch in November, Maxey scored in single digits for the second straight game. Wednesday's game was Harris' sixth time scoring less than 20 points in his last eight appearances. 

The Sixers should be happy with the effort of their role players, but their stars will have to play like stars if they want to turn their season around.

What's Next?

The Celtics will embark on a five-game West Coast road trip, starting with Friday's game against the Utah Jazz. The Sixers will also be in action that day and will look to bounce back in a road matchup against the Atlanta Hawks.