The Celtics were able to capitalize on the weak shooting night while receiving outstanding efforts from G Terry Rozier and rookie F Jayson Tatum to take a 117-101 win and Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
The Celtics were led by young guard Terry Rozier who stuffed the stat sheet with 29 points, eight rebounds, six assists and two steals as the home team led nearly from start to finish. As is often the case with Horford, the boxscore didn't do justice to his contributions on either end of the floor. "I've always seen that potential in Terry".
"It's a great experience for him to come into a play-off game of this magnitude and have such a great game", Horford added.
The third-seeded Sixers had advanced to the semi-finals after a confident demolition of Miami in the opening round. Joel Embiid had 31 points and 13 rebounds for the 76ers. "I think that's what it was", Ben Simmons said after the Sixers missed 15 of 20 shots to open the game.
The Celtics had just played 48 hours prior, blowing out the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 7 of their first-round matchup, and were without starting guard Jaylen Brown, out with a hamstring injury.
Rozier credited his form to a determined training regime launched previous year.
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Rozier noted his offseason preparation and hard work leading to performances like these. I think when everybody's on, we're the best defensive team in the game.
Interestingly, Charles Barkley was a member of the Sixers when he accomplished that feat back in 1986 - a good eight years before Embiid himself was even born.
"But there was some concern that I could re-aggravate it and it becomes a season-ending injury", Brown said.
How Simmons would fare without a semblance of a jump shot was a question mark coming into the playoffs, and while he proved he didn't need it against the Heat, the Celtics are uniquely equipped to handle his size and skillset.
As the game played out, the Celtics seemed much more ready than the Sixers, who had the look of a team that was out of sync.
Embiid, who got a first-hand look at what playoff basketball at TD Garden is like, wasn't impressed with Monday's environment. He is also just playing within the game plan and doing all the necessary things to help the team win games. "He's gonna have to play like that for the rest of his time, the rest of the series, in order for us to keep going the way we're going". Simmons and Brown both felt the Sixers failed to move the ball enough in Game 1; ball and player movement had been a hallmark of Philadelphia's offense during its recent run of success.