Sixers at Celtics - Game 1 Grades

Contributors: Steve Jones (@swjones87) and Dan Morgan (@dansaysthat)

With the NBA season back in action, Process Potables will be bringing you a graded recap of the Sixers' players for every game until it's all said and done. Feel free to send us your thoughts to any of the above contributors, or the network in general (@processpotables)!

Shake Milton

13 points, 0 rebounds, 3 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks, -7

SJ: C-. I really wanted to give everyone an “F” tonight, but after some deep breathing exercises and a king size Reese’s Take 5, I came to my senses (a little bit) and (tried to) remain objective. Besides making three threes, Milton had a very quiet game. Not all of the fault can be put on Milton for being unable to run an adequate offense, since he’s a combo guard playing the point, with a coach who is weirdly against calling plays. However, he did not provide any help defensively against Kemba Walker or Jaylen Brown. Worst of all, Milton was one of four players Sixers (all the starters besides Tobias Harris) to turn the ball over three or more times, which led to the team having a total of 18, compared to seven for Boston.

DM: B. Shake was one of the few efficient shooters on the night for the Sixers, and it looked like early in the game they were trying to work him along the baseline off of the attention Embiid was receiving, which was great. Unfortunately, they went away from this and Milton ended with only seven field goal attempts, converting five of them, including three three's. I had no expectation for Milton to be any more than an at-best average defender in this series, but I think he could be featured on the offensive end much more, especially with Embiid.

Josh Richardson

18 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks, -10

SJ: C. With a strong finish to the second quarter by scoring eight points in the final two and a half minutes, it seemed that Richardson was finally getting himself into the game and was going to be a factor in the second half. Wishful thinking, as that was clearly not the case. On a few occasions, Richardson provided good help defensive, especially when Thybulle stripped Tatum of the ball a few times. Otherwise, he provided little to no on-ball defense. Jaylen Brown, his primary assignment, went on to finish with 29 points for the night.

DM: C. I don't think Richardson was nearly as bad on defense as Steve, but his offense continues to piss me off. If you told me Josh had 18/6 in this one, I'd probably have thought he had a good to great game, but there are two significant areas of concern for me with Josh's offense. 1. He takes too many poor shots early in the shot clock, and 2. He has zero vision when driving to the basket, and isn't a great finisher either. He had a few drives where he had an easy pass to make, either out for a three, or to a cutter open due to his penetration. He failed to either see these, or selfishly refused to, and had his attempt at the rim rejected, altered, or he turned it over. There are huge areas for opportunity and improvement for Josh if he continues to be aggressive, but in doing so, makes the correct play while doing so.

Tobias Harris

15 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 steal, 0 blocks, -2

SJ: D. Despite flirting with a triple-double, Harris was disappointing tonight. Having stepped-up as the number two option since Ben Simmons season ending injury, Harris disappeared in the second half of this one. Defensively, Harris didn't handle any of his matchups all that well, primarily guarding Hayward until the injury. Look for Harris to come out with more aggression in game two. (P.S. - Yes, Tobias is still good)

DM: D. In the first quarter i'd have given him an A. I believe he hit his first three shots. He was getting to the rim, creating off the dribble, and using his size advantage over the likes of Hayward and Tatum. There was a play in the first half however, where he got a switch on to Kemba Walker, and that's the type of switch the Sixers should be hunting. However, Tobias seemed uninterested in testing Kemba, passed out of it, and stood around the perimeter. From that point in the game on, Tobias looked much less aggressive, settled for shots which weren't anywhere close to accurate, and was a non-factor. This was a tough one to watch for #TeamTobias, but I believe he will bounce back.

Al Horford

6 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 0 steals, 1 block, -18

SJ: C. Towards the beginning of the first quarter, Horford was very active on offensive, including a little two-man game with Embiid on a few possessions. In the second, we saw a more aggressive Horford defending Gordon Hayward as well as helping others on defense. However, like many other facets of their game, the Sixers got away from what was working. Horford then got into a little foul trouble when he was called for a highly questionable flagrant foul. Hopefully, we’ll see a more productive Al Horford for the rest of the series. I also hope we more Angry Al battle cries:

DM: C. I thought Horford looked much better on defense than I predicted, and I loved the high/low action they came out working with. I mentioned using Horford to get it to Embiid in the absence of Ben in my preview article. They also used this look to try and draw attention away from baseline screens to free up Shake Milton, which i mentioned in his grades, but as Steve said, they went away from things that were working before Boston even managed to take them away. Horford did a lot well in this one, but I think he has to be less passive on offense, especially with bench units, The flagrant call was bullshit, and he gets an A for the war cry.

Joel Embiid

26 points, 16 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 1 block, -6

SJ: B-. We can talk about Embiid’s impressive double-double, but more importantly, he started the game out very motivated and engaged. He started off hitting his first five from the field, including a ridiculous step-back three point shot as the shot clock expired. As the game went on, it seemed like he was the only player left on the Sixers fighting and despite for a win. Embiid had a tremedous hustle play in the third quarter, diving to tap away a transition pass attempted by Kemba Walker. However, two issues were the downfall of Embiid and the Sixers in Game 1. First, Embiid had a team high five turnovers. In a game where the Sixers lost by eight, the turnovers were a significant factor. Secondly, after a strong first quarter, the Sixers got away from Embiid and his dominance inside the paint. Did the Celtics have a lot to do with it, given their quick and active hands on defense combined with their aggressive double teams? Yes, but to start off with that success and fail to get Embiid touches when they were most needed was arguably worse than the turnover margin. Was that Embiid's fault? No, not entirely. Some of the blame goes towards Brett for not having your ball handlers feed the ball to the best player on your team. If the Sixers have any hopes of winning this series, Embiid will need his touches throughout the entire game.

DM: B. I'm torn between thinking Brett and the lack of a point guard are the reason Embiid's touches decreased as the game went on, or if it's also Embiid as well. The Celtics have always had Embiid well scouted, and you could see it again in the creative ways they double him, to knowing where he likes to drive, to spin, etc. and finding the opportunities to attack him and force easy turnovers. Embiid's early dominance was a great sign, especially with all the little nagging injury concerns, but there were still plenty of times on offense where he seemed unwilling to step inside the arc, and a few missed opportunities to defend the rim on the other end. Brett said he wanted 38 minutes from Embiid in the playoffs, he got 37 in game 1. We'll see if that continues and if he can handle it. They'll need his best in more of those minutes than they got tonight, but they have to set him up for success as well.

Alec Burks

18 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks, +3

SJ: B. Burks came off the bench to provide his usual, automatic offense that we’ve seen throughout the majority of the bubble. Some fans are already clamoring for Burks to start over Richardson or Milton, but why argue for a starting role when you end-up playing the most important minutes of the game? Brett included the 9-year vet in his closer line-up in the final 5:46 minutes of the game (minus the final 20 seconds). That closer lineup of Burks, Richardson, Thybulle, Harris, and Embiid is what we may see in close games. It should also be noted that, as indicated on previous pods and articles, Burks played more minutes (28) than Milton (26).

DM:A. Burks continues to be on a tear and is the only shot creator you can really trust at this point. I don't want him to start, as I think that should be Embiid time, especially given how he looked opening the series, but Burks definitely needs to continue seeing close to 30 minutes, and a lot of them in the second half. He still cant defend anyone, but the Sixers should gain a little bit of flexibility defensively with Gordon Hayward out for four weeks.

Matisse Thybulle

7 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 4 steals, 2 blocks, +36

SJ: C. Thybulle is the hardest player for me to grade, and I’m sure when I wake-up tomorrow (or today depending when you're reading), I may change my mind. Almost everyone has been anticipating Thybulle to be near disastrous, especially going up against Jayson Tatum. However, Matisse had a few highlight worthy plays on defense, even against Tatum. I just can’t award a grade of an “A” or “B” when your primary assignment goes off for 32 points. However, if this is the average night for Matisse in this series, I think you have to be pretty happy with it.

DM: B+. I have been critical of the idea of Matisse on Tatum, and i'm still not sure I love it, but he got it done in game 1. When Tatum was guarded by Matisse, he scored four points on 2/9 shooting, 0/1 from three, and had a shot blocked. He contributed a nice open three and a dunk as well, but again, he is a huge non-factor in the half-court offense, and Boston is going to be able to leave him to help elsewhere regularly. He is going to need to be ready and willing to shoot, and he's going to need to convert as well.

Mike Scott

0 points, 2 rebounds, 0 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks, -3

SJ: C. Scott made a two-minute cameo in the final two minutes of the first quarter, when Embiid sat out for a short rest before coming back out for the start of the second quarter. Thanks for the two rebounds, Mike. We sure missed your toughness and physicality.

DM: Mike played in this one?

Furkan Korkmaz

0 points, 1 rebound, 0 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks, +5

SJ: F. In just seven minutes of action, Furkan picked-up three fouls, committed one turnover, and attempted ZERO (0) shots. He did have one nice defensive stop on Marcus Smart, but that was all for Furkan tonight. A nice poppin' of the ole kork would be nice to see in game 2.


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