The rather one-sided rivalry between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers saw its latest chapter get told on Tuesday night. While there’s plenty of optimism in Philly about the various moves they made at the trade deadline, we saw they’re not quite ready to take down Boston, as the Kyrie Irving-less Celtics came out on top in the City of Brotherly Love, 112-109.
It was a hotly-contested game, which tends to be the case when these two teams square off. But after it was all over, Sixers star Joel Embiid seemed to be most annoyed with the officials, which didn’t call a foul on a late game possession in which Al Horford hit his arms while Embiid was going for a layup.
There are a million things that can get called in either direction over the course of an NBA game, and while Embiid could point to any number of things that irked him, it’s probably safe to assume this one — which led to a turnover down the stretch — got under his skin the most. As such, Embiid let it be known after the game that he wasn’t happy with how it was officiated, ending his press conference and then sending a message that will surely lead to a fine coming from the league.
Embiid was generally not all that happy after the game, especially when it came to Horford. When asked about how the Celtics big man was able to keep him in check, Embiid fired back by saying it was all on him.
On the night, Embiid had 23 points on 9-for-22 shooting with 14 rebounds, a good-but-inefficient outing. Boston has been happy to let Embiid go one-on-one with Horford when they’ve played over the last few seasons, and seeing as how the Celtics have won 10 of the 12 games they’ve played between the regular season and postseason in that time, it’s obviously a gameplan that works for them.
The good news for Philly is that it’ll have one more shot at Boston during the regular season, a March 20 matchup in their building, plus four of the 10 guys they played last night weren’t on the team a week ago, so there’s plenty of room to grow. The bad news is that the Celtics really do have a leg up on them over the past two years, and it seemed like some frustration rooted in that fact is going to cost Embiid some cash.