KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Here is my look at some of the best and worst performances from the 76ers’ 109-101 Game 1 to the Boston Celtics on Monday at The Field House inside ESPN Wide World of Sports.
Best performance: This was tougher than one would think, with Jaylen Brown scoring 29 points, including 15 in the fourth quarter. But I decided to go with his Celtics teammate Jayson Tatum. The third-year forward had game highs of 32 points and three blocks to go with 13 rebounds. The 22-year-old became the youngest Celtic to finish with at least 30 points and 10 rebounds in a playoff game. Tatum’s 21 first-half points were the most by a Celtic in a postseason half since Avery Bradley in 2017.
Worst performance: I had to give this to Al Horford even on a night he finished with seven rebounds and six assists. The Sixers power forward got it for scoring only six points and grading out at a game-worst minus-18. He was a nonfactor in the first half. He missed both of his shots and failed to score in the first quarter. By halftime, Horford had two points on 1-for-4 shooting and was a minus-12 in a game the Sixers trailed, 55-49.
Best defensive performance: You have to give this to Matisse Thybulle, even though Tatum had a game-high three blocks. Thybulle gets it for what he did against Tatum. The 6-foot-8, 210-pound Celtic scored four points on 2-for-9 shooting, including going 0-for-1 from three-point land, while being guarded by the rookie. Tatum scored 28 points on 8-for-12 shooting, including going 2-for-4 on threes, against other Sixers.
At one point, Tatum had such a hard time scoring against Thybulle that Celtics coach Brad Stevens took him out. He put him back in once Thybulle came off the floor. For the game, Thybulle had two steals, one block, and five points in 32 minutes, 41 seconds.
Worst statistic: I had to give this to the Sixers’ 18 turnovers. The Celtics turned them into 21 points at the other end. Thirteen of the turnovers came in the first half.
Best statistic: This goes to Brown’s fourth-quarter line. He finished with 15 points on 4-for-5 shooting, including going 3-for-3 on three-pointers. The guard also made all four of his foul shots and had a steal.
Worst of the worst: I had to give this to Joel Embiid’s attempting only 15 shots. The Sixers center must play at an MVP level for his squad to have a chance to win this playoff series. He started off strong, scoring 11 points on 5-for-5 shooting in the first quarter. Embiid went 3-for-10 the rest of the game. Embiid had a team-high 26 points to go with a game-high 16 rebounds.