Joel Embiid on Celtics-Sixers: ‘This is not a rivalry’

"They always kick our ass."

Joel Embiid
Joel Embiid wipes his face on the bench during a game against the Philadelphia 76ers at TD Garden. –Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid didn’t sugarcoat things after his team’s season-opening loss to the Celtics — the same group that ousted the Sixers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals last postseason.

“This is not a rivalry,” Embiid said. “I don’t know our record against them, but it’s pretty bad. They always kick our ass.”

Tuesday night’s 105-87 loss was the latest defeat in Embiid and the Sixers’ fruitless efforts against the Celtics. Since Embiid was drafted third overall in 2014, Philadelphia is a measly 2-15 against Boston in the regular season. During that span, the Celtics also hold a 4-1 head-to-head advantage — one that should be 4-0 if you ask forward Jayson Tatum — in the postseason.

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The first three seasons of Embiid’s career probably shouldn’t be included in the calculations, as the Sixers were “trusting the process” (i.e. tanking), but shifting the timeframe still doesn’t offer any convincing arguments in Philly’s favor. Last season alone — with both Embiid and 2016 first overall pick Ben Simmons in tow — they managed one regular-season win and one postseason win against the Celtics.

In each of Boston’s three regular-season wins last year, the C’s outscored Philly by over 10 points — a trend that continued into the season opener this year.

Embiid gave credit where credit was due, paying respects to Tatum, who he frequently worked out during the offseason.

“He’s a special one,” Embiid said of the 20-year-old. “He’s going to be great for years. The Celtics are lucky to have him. … I was with him all summer. We played a lot of one-on-one, and I was kicking his ass. I love him. I love his game. I’m excited to play against him for a long time.”

The Celtics and Sixers will meet again on Christmas Day at TD Garden.

Until then?

“We just got to work together and figure it out,” Embiid said.

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