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Joel Embiid Called the Celtics ‘The Best Team in the League’ and Sounded Utterly Defeated

The 76ers looked poised to take the top spot in the NBA’s Eastern Conference standings Wednesday night against the Celtics. Philadelphia was playing at home, while Boston was missing two key pieces from its lineup with guard Jaylen Brown and forward Kristaps Porzingis

However, the Sixers were playing the second of back-to-back games, coming off a 132–126 loss to the Pacers. That may have been the difference in the Celtics’ 117-107 win, carried by Jayson Tatum’s 29 points and 27 from Derrick White

After the game, Sixers star Joel Embiid didn’t cite the schedule as an excuse for their loss. But he did say something about the Celtics that raised some eyebrows. 

“We’re professional athletes, That’s the schedule; you just gotta do it,” said Embiid. “But yeah, tough. Especially playing Indiana twice and then on a back-to-back, playing the best team in the league, it’s tough. But no excuses.” 

Fans and media quickly seized on Embiid calling Boston “the best team in the league,” pointing to the remarks he made four years ago about the Sixers not being a rival to the Celtics because Boston always wins. (However, Philadelphia did beat the Celtics earlier this season, 106–103.)

Social media also praised Celtics center Al Horford for playing such tough defense against the NBA MVP. Embiid’s 20 points were his lowest total of the season thus far. 

Embiid’s 20 points were his lowest total of the season thus far. Meanwhile, Horford hit a decisive three-pointer with 2:32 remaining in the game to give Boston a 110–102 lead. 

With the win, the Celtics improved to 9–2 for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. The Sixers are right behind them in the standings at 8–3.