“The referees f-ing suck.”

Those had been the parting phrases from Joel Embiid on Tuesday night time after his new-look Philadelphia 76ers went to Boston and misplaced 112-109.

Embiid had a number of proceedings, some justified, in regards to the calls that went in opposition to him and his facet within the recreation in Boston. However the refs on this recreation can not provide an explanation for how Embiid has persevered to combat in opposition to Boston, particularly with their beginning middle, Al Horford.

Till Embiid can work out the way to play in opposition to Horford, it’ll be truly tricky for the 76ers to get previous Boston.

Earlier than we get to the matchup between the 2 bigs, let’s now not bargain that the 76ers are studying the way to play with a lineup that used to be remodeled after the business time limit, with the addition of Tobias Harris including a playmaking scorer, but in addition any individual to include into the lineup, which can all the time take time.

Sixers trainer Brett Brown mainly chalked up the sport to that, and did not disclose any considerations about the way forward for the staff.

“We now have were given an entire new staff,” he mentioned after the sport. “We now have been with every different for a minute. I do not even take into consideration that in any respect. … I am excited to play those guys.”

However the Sixers do should be considering their fresh run of shape with the Celtics. Boston is now 10-2 of their final 12 conferences with the Sixers.

And Embiid’s struggles in opposition to Horford had been a large phase in that.

The combat of Horford and Embiid

Al Horford’s stat line used to be a gem on Tuesday night time, with the large completing with 23 issues, Eight rebounds and Five assists. However it used to be his efforts in opposition to Embiid at the defensive finish that stood out.

And that is not anything new.

By means of ESPN’s Tim Bontemps:

Within the 8 video games those two groups have performed because the get started of final yr’s Jap Convention semifinals, Embiid has shot simply 25-for-70 (36 %) in opposition to Horford, together with Five-for-16 (31 %) Tuesday, consistent with ESPN Stats & Knowledge analysis. In opposition to all different defenders, Embiid has long gone 48-for-52 (52 %), together with Four-for-6 Tuesday.

Embiid mentioned it wasn’t a large deal on Tuesday night time, pointing to the referees and likewise to the truth that he used to be “sleep strolling” during the first 3 quarters, striking the blame on himself for his deficient efficiency.

However Horford has been uniquely suited for preventing Embiid for rather a while now. He has the power, self-discipline and period to stick with Embiid, now not one thing true of numerous bigs on this league, and the Celtics’ consistent switching on protection has now and again stuck Embiid off guard.

A positive signal Horford’s protection is operating: Embiid has a tendency to take numerous 3s in opposition to the Celtics – he tried 8 (!) on Tuesday night time, simplest making two of them. Annoyed via the loss of house down low and Horford’s skill to bump with him, Embiid stepped again, which used to be what the Celtics sought after.

A wanted win for the Celtics

The win serves as a righting of the send for the Celtics, who had been reeling off of a number of dangerous performances and a business time limit which noticed a marquee to-be loose agent swear off the group and their celebrity level guard, Kyrie Irving, stroll again his dedication to staying in Boston.

The sport used to be intended to be the Sixers coming to the city and appearing Boston who the brand new boss within the East is. As an alternative it ended with some other disappointing loss for the younger staff to a Boston facet they only can not appear to determine.

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Except for Horford’s persevered dominance, possibly maximum encouraging for the Celtics used to be Gordon Hayward – who has struggled to appear to be himself this season after getting back from a grotesque leg harm – completed with a team-leading 26 issues on Eight-11 taking pictures.

If Hayward may give that contribution off the bench, and this Celtics staff can work out the way to all coexist, this staff can nonetheless be simply as frightening as somebody within the Jap Convention.

For now, the Sixers should take some other L from Boston, and pass on and take a look at to recover. One thing tells me those two groups will meet within the playoffs, and Embiid should step up if they’ll cling with them.