Joel Embiid had a message for his point guard, James Harden, after the Philadelphia 76ers lost two consecutive games to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Despite his poor shooting performance in the last two games, Embiid advised Harden to keep shooting and to be aggressive. Harden had tied his career-high with 45 points in Game 1, but followed it with a 2-for-14 showing in Game 2 and a 3-for-14 exhibition in Game 3, which is his worst shooting output in that span in his career.
Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon has commented that the Boston Celtics have made an effort to slow down Harden’s game after his Game 1 performance. Sixers coach Doc Rivers believes his team was not aggressive in the first half, which led to five turnovers committed by Harden, contributing to the team’s 57-50 halftime deficit. Rivers repeatedly said the team needed to play with more force and believed the team had driving lanes to attack but failed to take advantage of them.
The Celtics won more 50-50 balls, got timely offensive rebounds, and made timely 3-point shots in the fourth quarter to hold off the 76ers’ challenges. Embiid and Rivers pointed out that the 76ers simply need to play better in Game 4 if they want to stay alive in this series. The 76ers had poor shooting performance as a team, and Embiid said that they all need to show up and execute their roles to win.