BOSTON – The 76ers’ approach tonight is kind of similar to the one they had in Game 3 of their opening-round series with the Miami Heat. They want to be aggressive from the start against the Boston Celtics in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal at TD Garden.
“It’s not going to be easy, because we have a lot of respect for this team,” Marco Belinelli said. “They play really good offense, and they play really good defense. So it’s not going to be easy.
“But tonight I think it’s really important for us to win this game.”
A loss would put them in a 0-2 hole in the best-of-seven playoff series. The semifinal heads to the Wells Fargo Center for Game 3 (Saturday) and Game 4 (Monday). However, the Celtics have never lost a best-of-seven series after winning the first two games. They’re 36-0.
“That’s the past,” Sixers guard Ben Simmons said. “We’ve just got to lock in and make sure that we are focused and know what we are about to do on the floor, and stay with our concepts.”
The Sixers played poorly on both sides on the ball in Monday’s Game 1 loss by 16 points. However, they think the rust associated from having five days off contributed to the loss. Now, they must deal with having two days in between the first two games of this series after that extended break.
— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) May 3, 2018
“I’m not trying to use that as an excuse,” Belinelli said. “But it’s not easy to play after one week then play after two days or something like that. So, we just need to play better. I think everything is going to be ok.”
Regardless, they want to come with a ramped up intensity like in Game 3 against Miami. Like on Monday, they Sixers were coming off a game where they were punched in the mouth. Yet, they stepped up their intensity and physicality in Game 2 while eventually wearing down the Heat in the victory. The Sixers went on to win the next two games to close out the series in five games.
“We have to play our game, sticking to what we do and how we play and not getting caught up on what else is going on on the floor,” said Simmons, who thinks the Sixers were too relaxed on Monday.