The Celtics lost their third straight game after falling to the Sixers in Philadelphia, 109-98. Boston is now 1.5 games behind the second place Miami Heat.
The loss gives Philadelphia a 3-0 advantage in the season series before their final match-up on February 1. Joel Embiid was out with a broken finger but the rest of the team stepped up as four starters scored in double figures. Josh Richardson lead the way with 29 points, seven assists and three rebounds. Former Celtic center, Al Horford, finished the night with 17 points, eight rebounds and six assists.
Boston lead by 15 points in the third quarter, but went cold in the fourth as Philadelphia outscored them 32-18. Kemba Walker contributed 26 points, three assists and two rebounds while Marcus Smart chipped in with 24 points.
The three-game slide began with a 99-94 loss to the Wizards Monday who were without all-star shooting guard Bradley Beal. There’s no reason Boston should lose to a Washington team that is sitting in 12th place in the conference, especially when they’re missing their top gun.
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Their second consecutive loss came on Wednesday when they let San Antonio get off to a great start in the first quarter. At one point they were down 22-3 and were playing catch-up the whole game. Although, they outscored San Antonio in the last two quarters it was too little, too late as the Celtics fell to the Spurs, 129-114. It didn’t help that Walker was ejected with six minutes left in the third quarter.
“I don’t think it’s like any earth-shattering move or anything that we really need to do to play drastically different,” said coach Brad Stevens. “I think we need to execute better, I think we need to cut better, I think, as we get healthy, we can find that right combinations. I’m concerned with our lack of cutting. And our lack of kind of high-motor offense in the past, really since Christmas Day.”
Rumor is Boston is in the market for a center. Currently relying on 6’8” David Theis and an inconsistent defender, Enes Kanter, it’s no secret that the Celtics’ weak spot is their front court. Although their ranked 6th in team defense, according to NBA Team Stats, Horford’s absence will definitely make a different in the playoffs. If they come up against the Sixers in the postseason and don’t make a move at the deadline, Embiid will have his way and Boston won’t stand a chance.
Andre Drummond‘s name has been in trade rumors and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Boston pursued the two-time NBA All-Star. Drummond is a stalwart defender and excellent rebounder but he won’t help spread the floor because he isn’t a good jump shooter. Regardless, look for the Celtics to acquire a big man before the NBA Trade Deadline on February 6.