You can find three main takeaways from Game 2 below:
1. 76ers still have no answer for Tatum
After Tatum had a monster performance in Game 1 and became the youngest Celtics player to record a 30-10 stat line in a playoff game, the Sixers hoped the insertion of rookie defenseman Matisse Thybulle in starting training would help slow Tatum down. Unfortunately for Philadelphia, that’s not how it turned out. Tatum had another huge game and only became the third player in Celtics history to connect on eight or more 3 points in a playoff game.
This is an area where the Sixers miss Ben Simmons in a major way. Simmons is one of the NBA’s best perimeter defenders. If he was healthy he would spend a ton of time on Tatum. Philadelphia has struggled tremendously and doesn’t seem to have an answer on the active list when it comes to Tatum’s slowdown.
2. Embiid is in desperate need of help
Embiid has had a very solid streak for the Sixers, averaging 30 points and 13 rebounds per game so far, but he hasn’t had enough help. With Simmons sidelined, the Sixers need all of their other key contributors to rally, and that just hasn’t happened. The Sixers signed both Tobias Harris and Al Hoford to massive contracts in the last offseason, and neither have been able to deliver at all for the amount they’re paid. Horford had 10 points in the first two games and Harris, a player who was supposed to be a go-scorer for Philadelphia, scored a total of 28. That would be an acceptable result for a playoff game, but certainly not for two. It’ll be an uphill battle already, and the Sixers will have absolutely no chance of moving forward in this series if they don’t get a lot more production from the other guys around Embiid who are supposed to be key contributors. .
3. Celtics dominate bench battle
After the Celtics lost Hayward for the rest of the series, it looked like their depth, or lack thereof, could become an issue. However, the opposite happened in Game 2. Led by Enes Kanter (10 points) and Grant Williams (nine points), the Boston bench dominated Philadelphia’s second unit 41-20, and the reserves played a major role in the team’s victory. On the other side of things, Philadelphia’s top two benchers – Horford and Burks – combined for just six points overall, and they were completely unable to provide any kind of spark out of the pine. If this trend continues, the Sixers will have virtually no chance of returning to the series, with the Celtics already having a more talented top five than the Sixers.