For the second straight night, the Boston Celtics suffered a narrow defeat against a top-tier team in the East. Tonight, Boston (17-7) fell at home 115-109 to Joel Embiid and the 76ers (19-7), meaning the C’s are now 10-1 when playing at TD Garden.
Despite the loss, there are many encouraging takeaways from tonight’s game. Most important, Gordon Hayward was healthy and in the starting lineup Thursday after a blow to the nose forced G to make an early exit Wednesday in Indiana. Against the Sixers, No. 20 had 19 points, five helpers and four boards. He shot 50% from the field (8-of-16) – including a 2-of-4 showing from beyond the arc.
Boston should also be happy with the play it received from the center position tonight from Enes Kanter and Vincent Poirier.
“We don’t have a lot of guys that have a lot of center strength, old-school center strength,” coach Brad Stevens said after the game. “I think [Vincent Poirier] is a little stronger than people realize, so his time could come down the road. Theis was really good tonight and he battled, but it’s a hard matchup obviously. We got a lot out of Kanter and Theis.”
Kanter came off the bench and was lights-out, draining 10 of his 13 field-goal attempts, while also tallying team-highs in rebounds (nine), steals (two) and blocked shots (two) – proving he can hold his own against one of the NBA’s best in Joel Embiid. Kanter ended with a season-high 20 points.
“It just happened,” Kanter said of his offensive outpour. “My mindset was to go out there and try to get stops. I was not thinking about getting buckets. My job was to bring physicality, get every rebound and bring toughness.”
Kanter’s toughness was matched by that of teammate Daniel Theis, who was 7-of-11 shooting performance, while also corralling five rebounds, dishing out one assist and blocking one shot. He finished with a season-high 16 points.
Kemba Walker also had himself quite the offensive night as well, recording a team-high in points (29) and assists (8). Kemba also registered five trey’s and was 8-of-10 from the charity stripe.
As the season progresses, if all of these guys continue to step up and make plays, the results will surely follow.
The C’s (17-7) will have a rare six days off before returning to action on Wednesday, December 18, to take on Luka Doncic and the Mavs (17-7) in Dallas. Tip-off is at 9:30 p.m. ET and the game will air on ESPN.