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Boston Celtics target Joel Embiid: Breaking down Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum’s second-half highlights

The Boston Celtics made a point to target Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid repeatedly in their regular-season opening victory on Tuesday, forcing switches and taking advantage despite Embiid’s incredible physical tools.

Two plays in particular stood out — Jaylen Brown’s weird layup/dunk/bank shot poster midway through the fourth quarter, and Jayson Tatum’s cross/step-back jumper a little bit later.

But both plays have been controversial on Twitter. Celtics fans believe Embiid was exposed. Sixers fans think Embiid defended both about as well as can reasonably be expected.

So who is right?

Here’s a flaming hot take: Both sides (kind of)! Let’s break it down.

First, Brown’s “poster.”

At first glance, Brown appears to absorb a ton of contact from Embiid before crashing to the floor. But Embiid actually caught the ball cleanly, which prevented a no-questions-asked poster that might have vaporized the TD Garden.

So Embiid didn’t get dunked on or posterized. That said, Brown gets near-poster credit for attempting the dunk and powering through the block, generating enough force to send Embiid crashing to the ground. If a poster is about perception, Brown certainly won the matchup — the Celtics ended up with a basket, and Embiid ended up on the floor.

Sixers fans are right that Embiid’s defense was excellent, but arguing semantics on a play like this is probably a loss from the start.

Here’s Tatum’s shot.

This one feels like a clear win for Embiid snatched away at the last second by a little luck from Tatum. There’s no way he called “bank” from that angle, and Embiid was inches from blocking him even after Tatum reversed direction.

And still, Tatum is pretty clearly the winner here. His shot dropped, Embiid ran away shaking his head, and the camera caught Tatum at exactly the right moment to show his head nod and wink at his summer workout partner.

“He made a lot of tough shots that I saw,” Embiid said. “The whole game we kept talking, and he was winking at me. He knew. We talked about it, and I was like, ‘That’s a tough shot, I mean, that’s good defense.’ I mean, as long as I got my hand up and I contested, and he just made a couple tough ones. But he’s a special one that’s going to be great for years. The Celtics are lucky to have him.”

On that, Celtics fans and Sixers fans (grudgingly) can probably agree.



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