One of the more intriguing matchups of the young season will take place Wednesday when the Philadelphia 76ers host a longtime rival, the Boston Celtics.
The Sixers have won five straight since an opening night one-point loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Philadelphia crushed the Washington Wizards 146-128 on Monday as reigning Most Valuable Player Joel Embiid led the way with 48 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Guard Tyrese Maxey added 22 points and a career-high 11 assists.
Embiid scored 29 points in the third quarter, marking the most by a Sixers player in a single quarter in the play-by-play era (since 1996-97).
“It’s funny, it might look like it’s a lot of points, but I think a lot of it was just from the flow of offense,” Embiid said. “You know no iso, no posting up, just the flow of the offense.”
Without James Harden (now with the Los Angeles Clippers), Maxey had the ball in his hands much more often. The result was a career-best in assists. And nothing seemed forced at all.
Maxey has recorded double-doubles in three of the first six games.
“I just noticed one thing that stood out to me tonight,” Sixers coach Nick Nurse said of Maxey. “He does things quickly. He inbounds the ball quickly. He cuts quickly, turns and gets his feet set quickly. Like he does things at a super-quick rate and, yet, under control. But that was good. He looked full of confidence and yeah, like some of the things I see defensively, too. He’s a good communicator out there.”
The Celtics won their first five games before falling Monday to the Minnesota Timberwolves, 114-109 in overtime.
Jayson Tatum scored 32 points, Jaylen Brown added 26 and Kristaps Porzingis had 20 but was saddled with foul trouble. Jrue Holiday also contributed 12 points, 11 rebounds and six assists but shot only 4 of 16 from the field.
The Celtics were unable to overcome a stellar 38-point performance by Anthony Edwards.
Boston head coach Joe Mazzulla said that this type of loss would have stung much more last season.
This time around, he’s looking at it differently, especially this early in the season.
“I probably wouldn’t be as open-minded about a loss like that last year as I am this year, and that just comes with time,” Mazzulla said. “That was awesome. What a game. That was sick.”
The schedule doesn’t get any easier with the sizzling Sixers up next. Expect a raucous atmosphere at the Wells Fargo Center for the latest edition of this rivalry.
“Our opponents are always going to bring the best out of us,” Mazzulla said. “I thought we competed at a high level. I thought their defensive toughness outmatched our offensive toughness at times, but I thought both teams played a really good game for game five of the year.
“Their overall pressure bothered us on the offensive end, so that’s a good learning point for us.”
Boston guard Derrick White missed his second consecutive game following the birth of his second child. It’s unclear if he will be available for the game against the Sixers.
–Field Level Media