Game Preview: 76ers at Celtics (Preseason)

Jeff Green

Jeff Green scored 25 points Saturday night while Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett watched from the sideline.
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images

BOSTON – The 2012-13 preseason comes to a close for the Boston Celtics (3-4) at 7:30 p.m. tonight when they play host to the visiting Philadelphia 76ers (4-1). The Celtics are looking to close the preseason out with their third consecutive victory.

Boston is coming off of an impressive 109-98 win over the Knicks last night in Albany, N.Y. Despite the fact that Doc Rivers rested many of his main players, including Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, the team battled back from a 20-point deficit and kept its preseason momentum going.

The main reasons why the C’s were able to maintain their winning streak were Jeff Green and Jason Terry. That duo combined for 47 points last night. Green led the way with 25 points on 10-of-16 shooting.

It’s unlikely that Green will get another opportunity to be “the man” tonight, because Pierce and Garnett will almost certainly be back in the lineup. The likelihood of Garnett and Pierce resting yet again tonight is very low. That duo hasn’t played since Thursday night’s 30-point win over the Brooklyn Nets.

Tonight’s opponent, the 76ers, have also experienced recent success against the Nets. Philadelphia is coming off of a 106-96 victory over Brooklyn on Friday night. Thaddeus Young was the star of that game with 24 points and nine boards. Six other Sixers also scored in double-figures during the victory.

Young played well against the Celtics when the two teams collided back on Oct. 15. He scored 15 points that night while helping Philadelphia dominate the C’s, 107-75. As Young will remember, however, Garnett was not on the floor that night. Rivers opted to rest the big man instead of playing him in a back-to-back.

With Garnett, Pierce and the rest of the team ready to go tonight, Boston will shoot to knock off a hot Sixers team that has already won three in a row. Doing so would send the C’s into the regular season with the feeling of victory under their belts.

Full Sixers Team?

Rivers has chosen to rest many of his key players during back-to-backs this preseason. Most of those players have appeared in the team’s back-to-backs, but they saw limited action in the contests.

Rivers’ counterpart, Doug Collins, is forced to make a decision tonight regarding the use of his players in a back-to-back. Tonight’s game is not the final contest of Philadelphia’s preseason. The Sixers play again tomorrow night against the Knicks.

Will Collins put all of his cards on the table tonight, or will he save some for his team’s preseason finale tomorrow? With the overall youth of Collins’ team, our guess is that he will allow all of his players to get a taste of the action both tonight and tomorrow.

Slow Down Hawes

Spencer Hawes was a force to be reckoned with when these teams met back on Oct. 15. He finished that game with 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists in less than 18 minutes of play.

Boston’s young power forward, Jared Sullinger, struggled to defend Hawes in pick-and-pop situations. That’s Hawes’ offensive game, as he’s much more prone to firing up a jumper than he is to posting up on the block.

Hawes is a very good player, but he’s not 17-points-in-18-minutes good. Sullinger and the rest of the Celtics need to keep a close eye on Hawes tonight. The goals will be to take away his clean looks at the basket from inside the 3-point line and to body him up on the glass.

A Clean Game for Rondo

Rajon Rondo has had a very strong preseason. Fans must be excited about the fact that he’s scoring, assisting and, most impressively, hitting 77.3 percent of his free throws. However, Rondo has turned the ball over at a high rate this preseason.

Boston’s All-Star point guard has averaged 4.3 turnovers per game during the preseason and has committed 21 turnovers in his last four games alone. Mistakes are going to happen in the preseason when new teammates are learning each other’s tendencies, but it would still be nice to see Rondo head into the regular season with a clean performance.