PJ Tucker Called Out by Joe Mazzulla After Sixers Beat Celtics

PJ Tucker Philadelphia 76ers

Getty P.J. Tucker of the Philadelphia 76ers.

If Tuesday night was the Philadelphia 76ers‘ final major test of the regular season, it’s fair to say they passed, with star pupil Joel Embiid earning an A+. The former Jayhawk went for 52 points on 20-25 shooting and 13 rebounds against the Boston Celtics, a team that owns the NBA’s third-best defense, and effectively ended the MVP debate all in one fell swoop.

While Embiid was brilliant in Philadelphia’s 103-101 win, he was often alone in that category. Tyrese Maxey managed just five points, a concerning trend against the Celtics. James Harden notched a 20-10 double-double. Tobias Harris turned in five points and six rebounds in 34 minutes of work.

And then there’s PJ Tucker. The former champ managed 11 points, including nine in the fourth quarter. After the game, Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla called out Tucker’s performance as a difference-maker for Philadelphia.

“If [PJ] Tucker doesn’t make those three threes, it’s a completely different game. Or if we let Embiid keep going, maybe he misses a couple. You don’t know,” Mazzulla said. “But I thought our guys competed. I thought they were very detailed in keeping him off the free-throw line. I thought he just had a great night, and we weren’t tremendous on the offensive end like we normally are.”

Mazzulla wasn’t the only Celtic to praise the Sixers’ performance.

Jayson Tatum Praises Joel Embiid’s Effort in Win Versus Celtics

Embiid wasn’t the only MVP candidate on the floor Tuesday night. After leading Boston to a 21-5 record to start the season, Celtics star Jayson Tatum earned early MVP buzz.

While Tatum’s stock has fallen while Embiid’s has risen, the former Duke Blue Devil has nonetheless put together an impressive season. Against Philly on Tuesday, though, Tatum looked more mortal, finishing with 19 points and six rebounds.


Tatum praised Embiid’s efforts after the game, explaining that Embiid did what he had to bring the Sixers across the finish line.

“I mean, s***, I wasn’t guarding him, but he had a good game, obviously,” Tatum said, smirking, per NBC Sports Boston. “He willed his team to a victory.”

But Embiid’s excellent night was almost spoiled late by a few Sixers miscues.

Doc Rivers Blasts Celitcs for Late-Game Flop

With the Sixers up seven with nine seconds remaining, the game looked sewn up. But an intentionally missed free throw from Marcus Smart followed by a quick and-one three from Derrick White suddenly thrust the game back into flux.

The Sixers proceeded to foul Grant Williams on the inbounds pass, giving Boston possession back, down two with a chance to at least tie the game.

While Tatum missed a turnaround fadeaway (that was eerily similar to Kawhi Leonard’s soul-snatching triple from the 2019 playoffs), it didn’t stop Doc Rivers from calling out the Williams foul as a “flop” after the game.

“We were trying to give them the game back,” Rivers said. “I mean, we really tried. We did a lot of things that you can’t do, from pulling in from the corner, which we never do. I think we did it four times; they scored on three of them. But they had another one, fouling a guy on a layup. We went through the whole laundry list. Falling out of bounds at the end of the game where you know they’re not going to give it to you.

“Knowing that the Celtics flop, you know that they were going to do that at the end; we said that in the timeout. Not paying attention when the guys on the free throw line, which is clearly, I mean, we had the whole gambit. So in some ways, it was a good way to win because it gave us material in a crazy way, to hit home about all the little points.”

The Sixers are back in action Thursday against the Miami Heat.