Doc Rivers proud of 76ers’ G1 win amid Joel Embiid out: ‘We have a bunch of street fighters’


Photo: Philadelphia 76ers/Twitter

Even in the absence of Joel Embiid due to that alarming sprained LCL in his right knee, the Philadelphia 76ers overcame the massive challenge posted by the Boston Celtics, ending Game 1 with such grit and poise via 119-115 Monday victory. 

As such, head coach Doc Rivers can’t be more proud of the fact that they were able to get through the hump of their rivals in C’s, despite the unavailability issues of their franchise cornerstone.

“It’s just the difference between us and last year,” said Rivers on what he felt about Philly’s Game 1 win amid Embiid being out. “We really believe, like, James missed games, we win; Joel missed games, we win. 

“That’s the difference between this year’s team and last year’s team. We have a bunch of street fighters, and they believe.”

With Joel Embiid’s status remaining yet to release such positive progress, James Harden boldly took the responsibility of carrying Philly in Game 1, erupting for 45 points which included a clutch trey with less than nine seconds left to seal their first blood win over Boston.

Harden got plenty of support on the scoring department, as Tyrese Maxey helped with his 26 points and four steals. Tobias Harris also contributed with 18.

Albeit becoming the first player in the shot clock era to have 0 field goal attempts and 0 trips to the free-throw line to have nearly 37 minutes of exposure (h/t ESPN Stats & Info), P.J. Tucker provided that heart, hustle and dirty work for Philly – evident of his +6 plus/minus rate. Paul Reed also emerged big time as a replacement for the presumptive MVP, nailing 10 points and 13 boards while sinking two huge foul shots to seal the 76ers dub, while De’Anthony Melton was serviceable with that 17 bench points.

Rivers also stressed out that his squad gained major confidence when it fell down to the final frame – and the 76ers did capitalize on the grinding pressure.

Behind Harden’s 15 fourth-quarter points, Philly was able to get warm and sizzle for a 12-4 late blitz to close out the second-round set opener.

“The whole thing [is] if we get to the fourth quarter, we’re going to win the game. That’s how we felt,” Rivers added. “That doesn’t mean that always happens but that’s how we felt.”

With early momentum at their side now, the 76ers will look to be on the track again in Game 2 on Wednesday back in TD Garden.

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