KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Some 76ers’ fans might want to call today Miserable Monday.

That’s because their beloved team looked anything but built for the playoffs. The Boston Celtics completed a first-round sweep with a 110-106 Game 4 victory at The Field House.

Now, the Sixers have major decisions to make about the coaching staff, front office and roster. This isn’t the result fans expected from The Process.

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— Keith Pompey (offthedribble@inquirer.com)

No moral victories

Josh Richardson kept it real.

Embattled coach Brett Brown and several Sixers noted that Ben Simmons was unavailable for the opening-round playoff series against the Celtics. But Richardson was far from in a good mood.

“I’m not sitting here for moral victories, because Ben wasn’t here,” he said. “No excuses. Like we got whipped. And I am, not happy about. So it is what it is.”

Richardson was right about the Sixers not being able use the two-time All-Star’s absence as an excuse. In addition to supposedly being built for the playoffs, the Sixers were preseason NBA championship contender.

The Sixers moved Simmons, the two-time All-Star point guard, to power forward during the NBA restart. Brown felt it showed Simmons’ versatility before he was lost to the team with a temporary partial dislocation of his left kneecap on Aug. 5.

But after the scrimmage games that preceded the seeding games, Simmons looked out of sorts at his new position. Plus, he was not the solid defender he was before a pinched nerve in his lower back sidelined him for the final eight games before the shutdown.

So it’s unlikely that the Sixers would have avoided a first-round exit even if Simmons had played. Plus, they were sixth seed while Simmons was healthy. So even with him, they were expected to lose in the first round.

Josh Richardson was in no mood to look for moral victories after Sunday's game.
AP
Josh Richardson was in no mood to look for moral victories after Sunday's game.

Starting Five

Battle of 50-point performances

On Sunday, Donovan Mitchell and Jamal Murray put on the basketball version of a prize fight.

Mitchell finished with a game-high 51 points to lead the Utah Jazz to 129-127 Game 4 first-round victory over the Denver Nuggets. Meanwhile, Nuggets guard Jamal Murray paced his squad with 50 points. His final three came on a three-pointer in the final second.

This marked the first game in NBA history that opposing players scored at least 50 points.

Mitchell became the just the third player in NBA history to have multiple 50-point performance in the same series. The guard scored 57 points in Game 1.

Utah's Donovan Mitchell scored at least 50 points in two games so far against the Nuggets, including Sunday.
Ashley Landis / AP
Utah's Donovan Mitchell scored at least 50 points in two games so far against the Nuggets, including Sunday.

Passing the Rock

Question: Who made the decision on free agent signing last summer? What realistic options are there to improve in the offseason? — @W0W8RS on Twitter

Answer: Thanks for the questions. I hope you have a great week. A lot of people want to blame Elton Brand because he’s the general manager. But the Sixers make collaborative decisions. That’s why they hired Brand. They didn’t want a general manager who would have the final say. So the decision was made by the ownership group and the entire front office. In regards to making improvements, I think it’s going to be tough with all the money they have tied up in Simmons, Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris and Al Horford.

They may have a hard time moving the contracts of Horford and Harris. Plus, I don’t think they’ll get anything of equal value in return for Embiid or Simmons.

Sixers forward Al Horford has a contract that may be hard to move.
Kim Klement / AP
Sixers forward Al Horford has a contract that may be hard to move.