BOSTON - The Sixers are going back to Philadelphia down 2-0 to the Celtics.
What they see as the key in that is, "going back to Philadelphia." The Eastern Conference semifinals shifts to the Wells Fargo Center Saturday and Monday after the Sixers blew a 22-point lead Thursday to lose Game 2, 108-103.
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"We have two home games that we need to take care of and handle business," said Ben Simmons (more on him here). "We have the team to do it and the coaching staff. Just got to go do it."
The Sixers were very good at home in the regular season, losing just once in Philly after the calendar turned. They are 2-1 there in the playoffs, including a Game 5 clincher against the Heat.
The Celtics are a perfect 6-0 at home but the story has changed once they've traveled away from Boston. They lost all three of their first-round games in Milwaukee.
"We know it's going to be tough on the road," Terry Rozier said. "But we've got to take care of business if we want to win the series."
Though both contests had the same results in the loss column, the Sixers made improvements in Game 2 from their flat Game 1 effort (see observations). Joel Embiid had more of a glass-half-full outlook on how the night unfolded.
"I think we're going to be fine," Embiid said. "We feel like we started, especially tonight, we started off really well. Then we kind of lost it, so we know what works and what doesn't. So, we just have to go back and watch film, learn from it. We feel like, the other night wasn't close, but tonight was close. We made a lot of mistakes and we've got to correct them."
The Sixers' optimism as they go home should not be mistaken for a lackadaisical reaction to a critical letdown loss. The Celtics are 36-0 when leading a series 2-0. The Sixers left Boston with the disappointment and frustration of not taking at least one game on the road. The locker room was quiet after the team blew that 22-point lead in the second quarter.
"You're upset because you built a lead, you gave it up, you got it back and you weren't able to ultimately finish the game how you wanted," JJ Redick said.
The Sixers have battled against the Celtics' home crowd. Embiid declared the Sixers fans are louder and Simmons stated he was unfazed by Boston's "not a rookie" chants (see story). Now the Sixers want to put their stamp on Games 3 and 4 with their supporters behind them.
"Now we have two games at home and we will try to come back, if it's possible 2-2, and come back here again," Dario Saric said.