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Sixers come close, but fall to Celtics in Boston

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By Josh Liddick, Sports Talk Philly editor

The Philadelphia 76ers (12-9) competed in a try to knock off the Boston Celtics (19-4) at the TD Garden on Thursday night, but they came up a bit short, falling 108-97.
 
When it looked as if the Sixers were going to find ways to close the margin of scoring, the Celtics found better ways to make sure their lead stayed in their favor.
 
The Sixers were coming off of a close win over the Washington Wizards at home on Wednesday night, and were hoping to be productive as a team despite missing Embiid (rest) and TJ McConnell (shoulder).
 
All things considered, the Sixers played reasonably well as a unit even without Embiid on the floor and were able to maintain ground at various points of the game.
 
While an 11 point loss to your rival squad on their home court is a tough pill to swallow, the Sixers are historically bad when Embiid isn't on the court. But tonight was different, the Sixers were able to do things that they wouldn't normally be able to do without Embiid, even if it wasn't enough in the end.
 
The Celtics got their scoring from a usual suspect, Kyrie Irving. 36 points on 12-of-21 shooting, along with 5-of-8 from downtown was a mighty fine performance to help Boston be victorious over Philly.
 
The Sixer killer himself, Al Horford had a pretty traditional night from the floor, finishing the night with 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting to go along with his eight rebounds and five assists, oh, and add in two blocks as well.
 
The Sixers weren't able to see Marcus Morris during their first meeting with the Celtics at the beginning of the season due to an injury, but they're probably wishing he would've held off a little longer from coming back. Morris had 17 points off the bench, five boards, three assists, a steal, and a perfect 5-0f-5 from the foul line.
 
Daniel Theis had eight rebounds and three blocks in 14 minutes, while Marcus Smart dished out eight dimes in 33 minutes off the bench.
 
The Sixers were undermanned without Embiid and McConnell but were still able to distribute the scoring pretty evenly.
 
Dario Saric has been impressive as of late, and he's been doing it pretty quietly so far. 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Croat. Toss in four assists and you have a pretty solid night for Dario in 35 tics.
 
JJ Redick went 4-of-6 from deep, a big reason for his 17 points, along with five rebounds, an assist, and a steal.
 
Ben Simmons continued to score, although not as grand as his 31 point, 18 rebound night vs. Washington Wednesday.
 
Simmons finished with 15 points, seven assists, and six rebounds, to go along with his impressive five steals.
 
He had a much much better night from the charity stripe, going 3-for-4, a much softer number than his near-franchise record 29 free throw attempts on Wednesday.
 
Robert Covington continued to struggle shooting, and there doesn't seem to be a definitive answer on why he's struggling so much. 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting for Cov, and he just couldn't get the three-ball to fall, attempting 10 shots, with only three getting in.
 
The Sixers got a really solid showing from Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot off the bench, and he finally got his three-point shot to fall, finishing 3-of-4 from three with 11 points and four rebounds in 17 minutes.
 
The Sixers shot 41.7% (35-84) as a team from the floor, and a very solid 50% (16-32) from beyond-the-arc, very much back into Sixers form from the beginning of the season.
 
But at the end of the day, the Celtics just played all-in-all better, shot the three better, and were able to pull away when they felt the Sixers were getting too close.
 
These two teams will play two more times this season, both occurring in January 2018, with the Celtics leading the series two games to none as of now. The Sixers play a home game at the O2 Arena in London on January 11 against Boston.
 
The Sixers will face the Pistons at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m., and they are looking forward to getting Joel Embiid back in the lineup to go to war with outstanding center Andre Drummond.
 

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