The Philadelphia 76ers suffered a blowout loss to the Boston Celtics by the score of 112-88 in Game 7 of the second round of the NBA Playoffs, resulting in a disappointing end to the season yet again in the Joel Embiid era.
Sometimes there is only so much you can do when a superstar like Jayson Tatum goes off for 51 points, but there are many factors to point fingers at for this loss to the Celtics. In the biggest games, that is when the players you invest the most in are supposed to show up, and they did not. Let’s get to the three 76ers most to blame for the Game 7 loss to the Celtics.
3. Doc Rivers
Doc Rivers will catch a lot of flack for this loss, and there are valid criticisms that I will dive into. However, there is a reason he is ranked third on this list. As noted above, you need the players you invest the most in to show up for big games, there is only so much that Doc Rivers can do if his best players are not shooting well or playing good defense.
One of the valid criticisms is that the 76ers came out flat out of halftime. This was looking to be an all-time great Game 7 at half, but then the Celtics outscored the 76ers 33-10 in the third quarter, and the game was basically over in that moment. Part of the reason for that run is the effort on defense as the Celtics were in their big run. It was not there, and as a coach your team needs to be prepared to put it all on the line coming out of halftime in a tight game.
The other criticism is the lack of performance from the depth of the team. Doc Rivers should be able to find someone able to perform well enough as a third option on a team with Joel Embiid and James Harden.
2. James Harden
This is not the first time in his career that James Harden has put up a disappointing effort in the playoffs. He shot 3-11 and scored just nine points in the Game 7 loss. That is simply not good enough. His shooting woes carried over from Game 6 when he shot 4-16 and scored 13 with an opportunity to close out the series at home.
The inconsistency has to be massively frustrating for 76ers fans. He was a hero in Game 1, and once again in Game 4, hitting game winners in both games. The performances in Game 3, Game 6 and Game 7 leave a lot to be desired. For someone who is supposed to play the role of Robin with Joel Embiid playing the role of Batman, this was not enough.
1. Embiid’s poor performance
The 76ers have spent years building around Joel Embiid, and he moves to 0-3 in Game 7s in his career with this loss. His performance in this game, like Harden’s, was not good enough. He went 5-18 and scored just 15 points. Tobias Harris was the leading scorer for the 76ers. This is no shot at him, but when Harris is your leading scorer in a Game 7, it is probably not going to go well.
It might be time for 76ers fans to question whether this team can win a championship as constructed. There is no question that Embiid is good enough to win a championship, but is the team constructed the right way around him? There will be a lot of pressing questions for Philadelphia this offseason.