Sixers vs. Celtics Game 7: Sixers Eliminated In Blowout Loss
Better luck next year.
Adam Aaronson, whose legal name is Sixers Adam (@SixersAdam on Twitter), covers the Sixers for The Rights To Ricky Sanchez. He believes cantaloupe is the best food in existence, and is brought to you by the Official Realtor of The Process, Adam Ksebe.
All dreams must die. And for the 2022-23 Philadelphia 76ers, the dream of winning a championship came to an abrupt end.
The Sixers fell in Game 7 of the second round in Boston Sunday, a 110-82 thrashing at the hands of the Celtics -- marking the third time the Celtics have eliminated a Sixers team led by Embiid from the playoffs.
After controlling the first 18 minutes or so of Game 7, the Sixers quickly lost their momentum as Jayson Tatum led the Celtics on a surge that brought the crowd back into the game. It was that point at which the collapse began.
The Sixers found themselves trailing by three points at halftime -- and that alone was a gift. Joel Embiid and James Harden, the two players supposed to lead the Sixers to a championship, were terrible in the first half. Not terrible by their standards -- just flat-out terrible.
Ultimately, it felt like a good spot to be in -- trailing by one basket is not some sort of massive hurdle -- and certainly Embiid and Harden could not possibly be as bad as they were in the first half… right? Right?
Wrong. Saying Embiid and Harden did not show up in the second half would be misconstruing what happened. They managed to reach a level of incompetence that somehow surpasses the level of a “no-show,” resulting in a third quarter that just may have been the worst 12-minute stretch in the history of the organization.
Tatum, meanwhile, went on to drop 51 points, the most points scored in a Game 7 in NBA history. While this season’s MVP and another former MVP came up small, Boston’s superstar showed up and took control of the game.
Tatum will now play in his fourth Eastern Conference Finals in his sixth NBA season. He will attempt to lead the Celtics to the NBA Finals for the second year in a row. In every way Embiid failed to assert himself as the apex predator on the floor, Tatum showed he is that guy.
There are tons of smaller things. But all anyone will remember will be the embarrassments that were Embiid and Harden’s disastrous showings.
With Harden’s likely free agency looming and Embiid sure to be the subject of widespread national criticism, the future in Philadelphia is as murky as it has ever been. And while their supporting cast needs to be good enough to enable them to lead this team to a championship, whether or not Embiid and Harden have what it takes to be those leaders is far from certain.
The centerpieces of the team crumbled. Once that much was clear, the rest of the infrastructure came down as well.
“I thought we took another mental step this season,” Rivers said. “And then tonight I thought we took a step backwards.”