Joel Embiid Drops 41 Points as 76ers Edge Jaylen Brown, Celtics to Snap 3-Game Skid

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVDecember 21, 2021

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 20: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers drives to the basket on Enes Freedom #13 of the Boston Celtics during the first quarter of the game against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on December 20, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts.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 Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)
Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

In a matchup of teams decimated by injuries and COVID-19 absences, the Philadelphia 76ers managed to come away with a much-needed win.

Led by Joel Embiid's strong evening, the Sixers (16-15) defeated the Boston Celtics 108-103 on Monday night, snapping a three-game losing streak.

Embiid was unstoppable in the waning moments, scoring Philly's final nine points.

Philadelphia 76ers @sixers

ALL HAIL THE EMVPIID. <a href="https://t.co/NP9D5mjmtO">pic.twitter.com/NP9D5mjmtO</a>

Steve Jones Jr. @stevejones20

Joel Embiid has had enough. <a href="https://t.co/Jf4eQqHEn0">pic.twitter.com/Jf4eQqHEn0</a>

Dan Devine @YourManDevine

Friggin' Embiid, man. Dudes that big shouldn't be able to dance like that.

As for the Celtics (15-16), they've now lost six of their past nine matchups.

More than a few unfamiliar faces had to make appearances in this one, with both teams coming into the game extremely short-handed.

The Sixers, who had to have Sunday's scheduled matchup versus the New Orleans Pelicans postponed because of an inability to field more than eight players, were without Tyrese Maxey (left quad contusion), Furkan Korkmaz (non-COVID illness), Jaden Springer (concussion protocols), a trio of players in the COVID-19 health and safety protocols (Shake Milton, Andre Drummond and Georges Niang) and Ben Simmons (wants to be traded).

Keith Pompey @PompeyOnSixers

<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/signofthetimeslineupflow?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#signofthetimeslineupflow</a>: The <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Sixers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Sixers</a> have a lineup of Tobias Harris, Aaron Henry, Myles Powell, Isaiah Joe and Charles Bassey.

Lauren Rosen @LaurenMRosen

Myles Powell checks in to start the second quarter, making his NBA (and <a href="https://twitter.com/sixers?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@sixers</a>) debut.<br><br>Powell signed with the team yesterday.

The Celtics, meanwhile, were missing Grant Williams, Brodric Thomas, Jabari Parker, Juancho Hernangomez, Sam Hauser, Al Horford and Josh Richardson to the health and safety protocols, along with Robert Williams (personal reasons).

Such is the current reality of the NBA as the COVID-19 pandemic. The Sixers were able to overcome their depth issues Monday.

Key Stats

Joel Embiid, PHI: 41 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, four blocks, two steals

Seth Curry, PHI: 26 points, seven assists

Tobias Harris, PHI: 25 points, seven rebounds

Jaylen Brown, BOS: 30 points, five rebounds

Jayson Tatum, BOS: 17 points, nine rebounds, six assists, two steals

Marcus Smart, BOS: 15 points, six rebounds

Joel Embiid Is a Force

With Williams and Horford unavailable for Boston, the Celtics didn't have many great options for slowing down Embiid outside of sending double-teams his way.

And boy, did it show.

Kendrick Perkins @KendrickPerkins

Joel Embiid was singing let freedom ring as he was giving Enes Freedom that 41 special in Boston tonight! God bless America…

J.E. Skeets @jeskeets

I'm still convinced THIS type of Embiid can result in a complete shift of power in the Eastern Conference. Dude is a monster. Another 41-10-5-4 tonight. <a href="https://t.co/2VKrAyYsnC">https://t.co/2VKrAyYsnC</a>

For all of the Sixers' various woes this year, from the Simmons drama to health concerns across the roster, one thing has been a constant—when Embiid is healthy, he's an absolute force.

One of his evolutions as a player is his ability to serve as a playmaker out of the post:


Embiid finds Thybulle for the easy oop 🤝 <a href="https://t.co/iEGApuHJO9">pic.twitter.com/iEGApuHJO9</a>

Mo Dakhil @MoDakhil_NBA

Brown does a good job stunting at Embiid to buy time for Freedom but does not do a good job of watching Thybulle who cuts just as he recovers. <a href="https://t.co/vr1GD0IpK2">pic.twitter.com/vr1GD0IpK2</a>

Staying healthy remains his biggest hurdle. But the Celtics didn't have many answers for him Monday night.

Austin Krell @NBAKrell

Embiid, Curry, and Harris combined for 46 of Philly’s 51 first-half points.

The Sixers needed every last point from Embiid, Harris and Curry, with an inexperienced bench offering them just one point in Boston.

Jaylen Brown Paced the Balanced Celtics

With both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown drawing the smothering defensive coverage of Matisse Thybulle at points, the question became which player would be able to lead the offense. Brown provided the answer.

While he didn't exactly post the most efficient numbers (9-of-22 from the field, 3-of-9 from three) he managed to get to the line 10 times, making nine, and continued to attack, hitting several daggers from deep.


19 points for Jaylen Brown ☘️ <a href="https://t.co/9GpMB0jUx1">pic.twitter.com/9GpMB0jUx1</a>

That led the way for a balance offensive night from Boston's starters, who all scored double-digit points except for Dennis Schroder (eight points). But despite that and Payton Pritchard's hot shooting in the second half—he scored 14 points in total off the bench—the Celtics dropped one on the road.

What's Next?

The Celtics will host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET, while the Sixers will host the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday at 7 p.m. ET.