Celtics-76ers takeaways: C's neutralize Embiid in narrow victory


The Boston Celtics overcame a rough offensive performance to defeat the Philadelphia 76ers in a nail-biter Wednesday night.

Led by Jayson Tatum's game-high 26 points, the C's edged out the Sixers 88-87 in their first meeting of the 2021-22 NBA season. It came down to the final moments as big man Robert Williams came up with the potentially game-saving block as time expired.

Forsberg: C's bench is going to start to be in the spotlight

Here are four quick takeaways from the Celtics' victory, which brings them to 12-10 on the season.

Celtics neutralize Joel Embiid

Boston made up for its lackluster offense with a spectacular defensive performance throughout Wednesday's showdown at TD Garden. The biggest difference was Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid having no answer for the Celtics' big trio of Al Horford, Robert Williams, and Enes Freedom.

Embiid finished with a modest 13 points while shooting a putrid 3-of-17 from the field. The 7-footer was a force on the boards with 18 rebounds, but his inability to find an offensive rhythm ultimately cost Philly in their one-point loss. This may have been the Celtics' most impressive defensive showing of the season thus far.

Jaylen Brown still not quite himself

Jaylen Brown still doesn't look like he's anything close to 100% as he recovers from his nagging hamstring injury. The 25-year-old saw a boost in playing time (33 minutes) but wasn't much of a factor offensively as he finished with nine points on 3-of-11 shooting. On multiple occasions, Brown was seen grabbing his ailing hamstring.

It wasn't all negative for the Celtics' All-Star wing, however.

Brown compensated for his rough shooting performance with some sensational defense, most noticeably on Embiid with the game hanging in the balance. Just watch him lock up Embiid below:

When you can't get shots to fall, that's certainly one way to make up for it. But the C's will need Brown to start finding some offensive consistency as they enter this difficult December stretch.

Robert Williams picks up where left off

Time Lord was welcomed back to the Celtics lineup after missing time with the flu. His return came at the perfect time, because Boston undoubtedly needed him vs. Embiid and Co. on Wednesday night.

In addition to limiting Embiid, Williams tallied 10 points (5-of-7) to go with four rebounds and three key blocks.

His biggest block came as the game clock hit 0.0.

Staying healthy has been Williams' biggest issue so far in his young career, so the Celtics will hope the injury/flu bug is behind him for the foreseeable future. His imposing presence in the lineup has made a tremendous difference to this point in the campaign.

Jayson Tatum bounces back with clutch performance

Tatum will be the first to tell you his shooting hasn't been where it needs to be so far this season. The All-Star forward entered Wednesday's game shooting a career-low 39.5% and went just 2-of-16 from the floor in Sunday's win over the Toronto Raptors.

Tatum was much better in Wednesday's victory and came up big when his team needed him most. He dropped 11 points in the fourth quarter, including a go-ahead 3 with 8:37 left on the clock.

He'd also drilled the go-ahead shot with two minutes remaining.

Tatum finished with 26 points (9-of-20) and -- perhaps even more impressive -- a career-high 16 rebounds. He continues to find other ways to contribute after dishing out 10 assists on Sunday.

Tatum and the C's will begin a trip out west Friday when they visit the Utah Jazz. Tip-off is set for 9 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Boston.

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