While listing every nightmare for every Eastern Conference playoff contender, Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report listed the Boston Celtics as the Philadelphia 76ers‘ nightmare matchup in the playoffs.
Swartz explained that the Celtics’ record against the Sixers, despite Joel Embiid’s dominance, could be worrisome for Philadelphia.
“Boston is a perfect 3-0 against Philly this season, including two victories in the last month alone. The Celtics’ fourth-ranked defense… has held a high-powered Sixers scoring attack to just 107 and 99 total points over their last two contests.
“What should make Philly truly concerned is that Joel Embiid is still putting up his usual dominant numbers in these meetings (31.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, 1.7 blocks), and the 76ers still haven’t been able to come away with a win.”
One of those losses came at the hands of Jayson Tatum hitting a buzzer beater to help the Celtics win 110-107 on February 25.
Swartz added that the Celtics’ defensive personnel can limit what the Sixers’ best scoring guards can do.
“The Celtics have enough stoppers on the perimeter in Marcus Smart, Derrick White, Jaylen Brown, and others to slow down James Harden and Tyrese Maxey, putting extra pressure on the rest of Philly’s core to make shots around Embiid.”
Sixers Called Nightmare Matchup For Milwaukee Bucks
Swartz explained why the Sixers are a nightmare matchup for the Milwaukee Bucks.
“Milwaukee’s recent 16-game win streak looked like it would reach 17 against the 76ers until a fourth-quarter meltdown saw the Bucks give up a whopping 48 points.
“Allowing 133 points in total to the Sixers should have Milwaukee a little hesitant to face Joel Embiid, James Harden, and company again, especially since both stars registered 30-plus point double-doubles,” Swartz said.
Swartz added that Joel Embiid is a bad matchup for Giannis Antetokounmpo.
“If there’s anyone who can make Giannis Antetokounmpo appear mortal, it’s Embiid. The two-time MVP was just 9-of-21 from the floor with seven turnovers in the loss to Philly, and is shooting just 41.4 percent overall in three games against the Sixers with Embiid or P.J. Tucker as the primary defender, per NBA.com matchup data.”
The Sixers have one more matchup against the Bucks this season on April 2, which could play a huge role in playoff seeding.
Doc Rivers Singles Out P.J. Tucker For Toughness
Before the Sixers’ victory over the Miami Heat on March 1, Rivers explained why Tucker’s toughness makes him stand out in bigger games.
“I do think there is something to that,” River said, per Ky Carlin of SixersWire. “I think they’re bigger games, and that’s why you have PJ. He’s tough. The good teams are all tough. The good teams are serious, they’re physical, they play hard, they execute, and PJ is great in those games, so I do think there’s something to that.”
Rivers then explained that Tucker’s ability to communicate on both ends of the floor helps the Sixers grow as a team.
“Teams that talk, man, it’s just so important defensively,” Rivers added. “It just eliminates all mistakes. You don’t have switching mistakes, you don’t have transition D mistakes when guys are hitting 3s, and that’s where as a team, we have to grow.”