The NBA has attempted to appeal to fans outside of the United States and Canada by playing at least one game overseas every season since 2011. The Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics got the pleasure of playing at the O2 Arena in London on Thursday, January 11. While the 76ers arrived in England on a four-game winning streak, they were still going to have a tough time defeating the top team in the Eastern Conference.
Philadelphia has been a completely different team since Joel Embiid returned from his injury. This team can complete with anyone in the league when fully healthy, and they proved it early in the game against the Celtics. Hot shooting from JJ Reddick and Ben Simmons helped the 76ers get a five-point lead by the end of the first quarter. The hot start continued into the second quarter. At one point, the 76ers were leading by 22 points. A late surge by the Celtics shrunk Philadelphia’s lead to nine points at halftime.
Boston took all of the momentum into the locker room despite their big deficit. Great teams are very scary when they are playing with a lot of confidence, and that is exactly what the Celtics were doing throughout the second half. The 76ers simply could not find a way to stop the Celtics from scoring in the third quarter. Boston put up 37 points in the third quarter, which helped them get a six-point lead with only 12 minutes left to play.
While Boston’s scoring pace slowed down in the fourth quarter, they were never in danger of losing the lead. With their top players struggling on both offense and defense, the 76ers were unable to mount a comeback. JJ Reddick was the best player on the court in the first half, but he only managed to score four points after halftime. The Boston Celtics left London with a 114-103 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
The 76ers have a very talented team, but they are sitting with the ninth best record in the Eastern Conference through 39 games. It is hard to envision this team missing the playoffs, but they can’t afford to lose any more games like this going forward. Playoff teams do not lose after getting a 22-point lead in the first half. Philadelphia will look to start another long winning streak when the the Toronto Raptors come to the Wells Fargo Center on Monday, January 15.