Sixers-Celtics observations, 'best' and 'worst' awards: Defensive and three-point woes

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Sixers center Joel Embiid going after the basketball with Celtics forward Al Horford during the first quarter in Game 1.

BOSTON — Here are my main takeaways and “best” and “worst” awards from the 76ers’ 117-101 loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series Monday night at TD Garden.

Poll

Should Markelle Fultz get a chance to play against the Celtics?

Five observations

  • The Sixers still have a tough time defending athletic scorers. It looked like Celtics small forward Jayson Tatum — not Ben Simmons or Donovan Mitchell — was the leading candidate for rookie of the year the way he kept blowing by Sixers. He ended up with 28 points on 8-for-16 shooting.
  • No one can say the Sixers-Celtics rivalry is one-sided. Boston fans dislike the Sixers just as much as Philly fans dislike the Celtics. For proof, all you had to do was listen to Celtics fans in the fourth period chanting, “F— the Process.” They also chanted “Not a rookie” when Simmons was at the foul line.
  • The Sixers‘ five days of rest made for rust. Guys couldn’t defend, make shots or execute plays as they usually do. It didn’t help matters that the Celtics were riding the energy of their home crowd.
  • When mentioning poor shooting, you have to talk about Robert Covington (0 for 4), Dario Saric (0 for 4) and reserve Ersan Ilyasova (0 for 3) shooting a combined 0 for 11 on three-pointers. As a team, the Sixers made just 5 of 26 three-pointers, 19.2 percent.  You can’t miss that many three-point shots and beat the Celtics.
  • As for Covington, he had a tough time on both sides of the floor. A lock-down defender, the small forward couldn’t keep up with the quickness of Terry Rozier. But to Covington’s defense, the Boston point guard torched everyone not named  Simmons. He made 9 of 12 shoots, including 6 of 6 three-pointers, when Simmons didn’t guard him.

‘Best’ and ‘worst’ awards

  • Best performanceRozier gets this. Things were too easy for him. He scored a playoff career-high 29 points on 11-for-18 shooting. Rozier hit 7 of 9 three-pointers and finished with eight rebounds, six assists, two steals, one block and two turnovers in 34 minutes, 53 seconds
  • Worst performance: Covington just looked overmatched against the Celtics.
  • Best defensive performance: You have to give this to Rozier.
  • Worst statistic: The Sixers’ three-point shooting.
  • Best statistic:  This goes to Celtics post player Al Horford’s making 10 of 12 shots (83.3 percent) en route to scoring 26 points. He became the first Boston player to score 25-plus points and shoot at least 83 percent  in a playoff game since Robert Parish on May 19, 1987.