Things to Watch: Sixers-Celtics Game Two
The Sixers find themselves down 1-0 in their series against the Celtics after a close loss on Monday. With proper adjustments, the Sixers could very well even the series back up in game two on Wednesday. Here are some things to keep an eye heading into the action tonight.
Turnovers were the Achilles heel in game one for the Sixers. They gave the ball away 18 times, which resulted in Boston scoring 21 points off turnovers. One major area that needs correcting in game two is taking care of the basketball. If the Sixers can cut down on their turnovers it makes their chances of winning much higher.
Another area that needs to be corrected is defensive rebounding. The Celtics grabbed 16 offensive rebounds on Monday night, that is unacceptable. The Sixers' clear advantage in this matchup is their size and they need to make the most of it.
That means controlling the glass on both ends and limiting the number of extra possessions for the Celtics. Heading into this game the Sixers need to emphasize finishing defensive possessions and dominating the rebound game.
How Boston responds to Hayward injury
Boston received some bad news yesterday as reports came out on Gordon Hayward's injured ankle. He has suffered a grade three sprain and will be out for at least a month. That being said, how they respond to losing a key piece will be a major storyline moving forward.
This also means they have to put out a new starting lineup in game two. Brad Stevens will most likely insert Marcus Smart into the starting five, leaving their bench very thin.
Losing Hayward is a big blow to the Celtics and is something the Sixers need to capitalize on. Now with one less scoring threat on the floor for Boston, the Sixers can shift more focus to slowing down Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
Joel Embiid being more assertive
Joel Embiid attempted just 15 shots in game one and saw limited touches down the stretch when the game was close. As the Sixers' biggest offensive threat, his touches late in the game need to greatly increase.
After the game Joel Embiid spoke on his shot attempts, saying "obviously it's not enough, I need to be more assertive and demand the ball." How he responds in this game will be something to keep an eye on.
The Sixers are only going to go as far as Joel Embiid can take them. As much as it is on coaching to create a system that gets him the ball more, it is also on Embiid to step up and command the ball.
Based on how he spoke after the game the All-Star center seems like he has taken game one as a learning experience and will adjust in game two. Joel Embiid is without a doubt the best player in this series, and if the Sixers are going to win they need to be more effective at getting him the ball and putting him in a position to dominate.
Kevin McCormick is the 76ers insider for 97.3 ESPN and 76ers editor for Sportstalkphilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @KevinMcC973.