The Philadelphia 76ers have begun their opening-round playoff series against their bitter rival, the Boston Celtics. Despite winning the season series 3-1, the 76ers have struggled against the Celtics in the first two games of the series.
Obviously, this postseason is different than all others, but something that remains the same is that the 76ers are plagued with significant injuries. This year, it is Ben Simmons. Simmons, who injured his left knee against the Washington Wizards, has been deemed out for the season, and his loss has been felt immediately.
No 76er has guarded Celtics star Jayson Tatum more than Ben Simmons. Tatum scored over 30 points in games 1 and 2, setting a new postseason career-high in each game, and led the Celtics to victory. When the teams matched up in the regular season, Simmons was able to handle Tatum, but the Sixers have no answer for a player who has been a thorn in the side of the organization since that Markelle Fultz trade with Boston.
Game 1 was close. The Sixers got down but were able to claw back and make it a contest, even holding the lead in the fourth quarter. The game was close down the stretch, but Tobias Harris disappeared and Joel Embiid was gassed after carrying the team all night long. Tatum and budding star Jaylen Brown led the Celtics past the Sixers by a score of 109-101.
If there were any positives from game 1, they were all thrown away after game 2.
Despite how badly they played, the Sixers actually led after the first quarter in game 2. But that was the end of the positives. Tobias Harris and Al Horford, the Sixers two biggest free-agent signings, stunk. They were absolutely terrible. With Simmons out, we expected Harris to take the reigns and deliver what his contract deems he should, but he did nothing of the sort. Harris did not just disappear. Instead, he made his presence felt with missed shot after a missed shot. Embiid put up what felt like the most worthless 34 points in a game where the 76ers yet again, could not stop Jayson Tatum.
It has become apparent to everyone now that the Philadelphia 76ers need significant changes. This starts at the top. Firing Brett Brown is not enough. Elton Brand needs to be let go; ownership needs to look at different options moving forward, including one where they sell the team. If not, the Philadelphia 76ers will be stuck in mediocrity for years to come and will waste the talents of the best big man in the NBA, Joel Embiid.
If these past two games have shown us anything so far, it’s that the Sixers need Ben Simmons, and all of the trade Ben Simmons talk is false. Simmons is one of, if not the best defender in the NBA. Want to question his value to the team, look at game 2 where the Sixers led by 13 at one point and lost 128-101.
Game 3 is on Friday at 6:30 p.m. on TNT