The Boston Celtics may put themselves in pole place to progress onto the convention finals in the event that they win their third straight sport towards the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday afternoon.
Proper now, the collection is see-sawing between either side. The Sixers claimed Sport 1; the Celtics claimed Video games 2 and three. Nevertheless, if Boston could make it three wins on the bounce, the narrative modifications, and the countdown to the convention finals begins — alas, below our breath in order to not jinx something.
At this level, it looks like we’ve seen all the pieces the Sixers have to supply. Boston took James Harden’s greatest punch within the opener, and since then, he has returned to his cryogenically frozen state. Joel Embiid actually stamped his mark on Sport 3, and it made no distinction apart from a couple of stitches. Relaxation up, Grant Williams.
If we’re being sincere, the Sixers, for all of their low season retooling, lack a bonafide sparkplug off the bench, and that’s proving to be a substantial stumbling block for them to beat. After all, that problem is made more durable by the presence of Malcolm Brogdon, who has been a fearsome proposition off Boston’s bench.
Nonetheless, if the NBA has taught us something, it’s to count on the sudden. So, listed below are three issues to look at in Sunday’s sport 4 contest.
Follow what’s working
Since Harden’s ‘Angels within the Outfield’ second within the collection opener, Joe Mazzulla has tasked Jaylen Brown with preserving the previous celebrity from having one other huge evening. To date, that transfer has paid dividends, as Harden has resumed his function of being the Sixers’ initiator fairly than the man who places the group on his again — Boston will stay with that.
Brown’s dimension, size, and athleticism have confirmed to be a foil for Harden’s capability to function as a pick-and-roll scorer, particularly off of the drag screens which Philadelphia utilized to such devastating in Sport 1. Able to preventing by contact, exploding over or below the screener, and entering into Harden’s airspace on shot contests, Brown is enjoying a outstanding function in subduing the previous MVP.
So, because the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t repair it.” Till the Sixers discover a strategy to put Harden again able to make waves, preserving Brown as his main defender makes all of the sense on this planet, particularly if it continues to provide disjointed performances from the Sixers’ main creator.
What modifications with Embiid?
Joel Embiid is nowhere close to 100%; that a lot is obvious. But, in his first two video games of the collection, we’ve seen the Sixers look to make the most of him on the perimeter, on the elbow, and within the mid-post — all of which have failed to provide vital outcomes. Positive, the Celtics are infamous for the work they do on the 2023 MVP, however his lack of mobility, conditioning, and verticality are all hindering his impression, too.
I might count on Doc Rivers to proceed experimenting with easy methods to situate Embiid for fulfillment. Will we see him turn into an elbow DHO risk like Bam Adebayo? A dump-off risk for straightforward buckets? Or will it’s extra of the identical within the hope that one other sport’s price of conditioning will permit Embiid to faucet into his basketball powers and are available alive?
In relation to swing components, there don’t come a lot larger than Embiid and his capability to start enjoying on the stage we noticed from him in the course of the common season and earlier within the playoffs. But, with Al Horford, Grant Williams, and Robert Williams all taking turns attempting to gradual him down, we’d discover that his robust reintegration into Philadelphia’s rotation continues in Sport 4, or so we hope.
Controlling the tempo
Within the final two video games, the Celtics have managed the tempo of the sport. They’ve run the break after they needed to, slowed issues down within the half-court when it happy them, pressured the rim, and punished area on the perimeter. Frankly, it’s all gone Boston’s approach, save for some inevitable runs.
However, we’ve seen what the Sixers are able to after they management the tempo, particularly if in case you have De’Anthony Melton and Tyrese Maxey sprinting the ground, trying to generate some early offense. As such, the Celtics ought to enter this sport with an identical mindset to the final two: make them really feel you. Let each possession be a reminder of your physicality and athleticism when you proceed to show elite-level shot-making.
Personally, I might be trying to Boston’s guard trio to regulate the tempo, learn the protection, and look to punish no matter gaps current themselves. After all, we will count on Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to even have a say in these proceedings in the course of the possessions through which they create the ball up courtroom.
I’m actually struggling to see the place the Sixers go from right here. When the Celtics are locked in and enjoying their greatest basketball, and Embiid is struggling for well being and health, it seems that Boston is just too gifted for the Sixers to cease.
After all, Boston is able to beating itself; they are often world-beaters one second and ‘Cheddar Bob’ the following. For this reason you’ll hope that the prospect to go 3-1 up in a collection towards your rivals is sufficient to maintain their eyes on the prize and encourage them to exit and placed on a dominant show for the third straight sport.