BOSTON – Here are my key takeaways and "best" and "worst" awards from the 76ers' 108-97 loss to the Boston Celtics on Thursday night at TD Garden.

Five observations

  • Dario Saric has had some solid games playing alongside Joel Embiid. However, he proved, once again, this he's more effective when Embiid doesn't play. The Sixers power forward finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds and four assists on a night when Embiid rested his left knee.
  • Ben Simmons showed some improvement from the foul line. The Sixers point guard made 3 of 4 attempts one night after suffering through a 15 of 29 performance.
  • Nik Stauskas needs to do the main thing that made him a lottery pick during the 2014 NBA draft. The shooting guard didn't attempt a shot while playing 9 minutes, 43 seconds against the Celtics. He did record a steal. However, an ability to bury three-pointers – not defense – is the reason why he's in the league. But it's hard to make them if you don' take them.
  • Robert Covington's shooting woes continue. Even though he showed improvement in the fourth quarter, The Sixers small forward is still in his shooting slump. He made 4 of 13 shots, including going 3-for-10 on three-pointers. It looked like there was a lid on the basket when he got in the first half. However, he made three of his seven fourth-quarter shots.
  • Sixers coach Brett Brown is just going to have to live with his team's poor free-throw shooting. It was once again an Achilles' heel. They made just 61.1 percent (11 of 18).

‘Best’ and ‘worst’ awards

  • Best performance: This was an easy one, Kyrie Irving basically sliced up the Sixers attempting to defend him. The Celtics point guard finished with a game-high 36 points while making 5 of 8 three-pointers.
  • Worst performance:  This was another easy one. Jaylen Brown gets this after finishing with a two points on 1-for-6 shooting. The Celtics shooting guard also had four turnovers in 21:37 of action.
  • Best defensive performance: Simmons gets this award. The rookie finished with a career-high tying five steals.
  • Worst statistic: This goes to the Brown having more turnovers (four) than points (two).
  • Best statistic: Sixers reserve guard Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot gets this for making 4 of 5 shots en route to scoring 11 ponts.
  • Worst of the worst: The Sixers' continued foul-shooting woes. They rank second to last in the league in foul shooting at 71.1 percent.