The Boston Celtics were supposed to get an easy win at home in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Instead, James Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers took over and beat them at the TD Garden to steal home-court advantage.
To make it even more impressive, the Sixers pulled off the win without their best player, as Joel Embiid was out nursing an LCL injury.
However, Embiid’s absence might have worked in Philly’s favor, at least according to Celtics big man Al Horford.
Al Horford said Embiid’s absence definitely affected the Celtics’ intensity tonight, especially saying they didn’t make the Sixers feel them on defense.
As he said several times in similar situations this year, it happened “For whatever reason.”
They’re still not sure why.
— Jared Weiss (@JaredWeissNBA) May 2, 2023
Per Horford, the Celtics didn’t play with enough defensive intensity, citing that it has happened multiple times throughout the campaign.
Notably, that has been a talking point for the 2022-23 Celtics way too often.
It seems like they look down on some of their rivals, and that lack of intensity has led to losing to lesser teams over and over.
Needless to say, that’s not going to get the job done in the playoffs, especially against a star-studded Sixers team that’s hungry to finally take a leap forward and put an end to their NBA Finals drought.
Also, you cannot freelance on defense when you have a generational scorer on the other end of the floor, even if Harden hasn’t been the same offensive juggernaut he was during his days with the Houston Rockets.
Fortunately, the Celtics have enough depth and talent to come back from this, especially if Embiid isn’t able to suit up for Game 2 of the series.
But they cannot dig themselves into a hole again.NEXT: Jayson Tatum Makes A Telling Statement After Celtics Loss