Watch It! - Celtics at 76ers
Here are five things to watch out for when the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers meet at 7 p.m. tonight night at the Wells Fargo Center.
Saturday night’s win by the Celtics in Cleveland was pretty darn impressive. They had only eight available bodies due to injuries yet still dominated the Cavs on the road.
Boston logged that victory without the services of Rajon Rondo (bruised left shin), Jared Sullinger (sprained left ankle), Jerryd Bayless (sprained right knee) and Kris Humphries (sore right knee). All four players were considered to be day-to-day entering Monday.
So the question still remains, who will be available tonight? Word from this morning’s shootaround is that Sullinger, Bayless and Humphries will all remain sidelined, while Rondo is listed as questionable. Obviously, the Celtics would be in better shape to grab a third straight win if they have any of those guys available to play. We’ll just have to wait and see if any of those four players do, in fact, play.
Something About the Sixers
Philadelphia may be the worst team in the NBA this season but it hasn’t looked that way against Boston. The 76ers enter tonight’s game with an opportunity to win the season series against the Celtics 3-1.
Philly won both of its matchups with the Celtics in Boston this season. The first victory was earned on Jan. 29 thanks to an Evan Turner game-winner. The second was recorded on April 4 with a final score of 111-102.
Laugh at its record all you want, but understand that there’s something about this Sixers team that the Celtics haven’t been able to figure out. For the most part, it has been Philadelphia’s defense, which has limited the C’s to just 40.2 percent shooting during its two series victories this season.
No Coasting Here
If you watched Saturday’s game in Cleveland, you saw one team that’s lottery-bound coast through the night. It certainly wasn’t the Celtics.
Boston, with its back against the wall, came out and played its tail off. The short list of Celtics who were available came together to crush the Cavs.
“We were short-handed as far as bodies go,” Brad Stevens said after the game, “but all eight guys were pretty good and locked in tonight.”
Stevens has been selling anyone who will listen on the fact that his team will not go through the motions during its final games of the season. The Celtics want to win every time they take the floor.
The greatest reason for Boston’s success over its last two games has been its balance. Four players scored at least 18 points during Friday’s win, and four scored at least 19 points during Saturday’s win.
That balance has been a product of ball movement. The Celtics have shared the ball to the tune of 24.5 assists per game over the last two wins. Phil Pressey, who started at point guard on both nights, has been the lynchpin of the ball movement. He tallied 13 assists in each contest.
Boston has not scored very consistently or efficiently against the Sixers this season. Ball movement and balanced scoring could change those trends tonight.
Carter-Williams is a Tough Cover
Michael Carter-Williams is only a rookie but he’s already one of the toughest covers in the league. That’s because his 6-foot-6 frame towers over opposing point guards.
Carter-Williams has played at a very high level during three meetings against Boston this season. He heads into tonight’s matchup averaging 15.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG and 6.3 APG against Boston and 16.7 PPG, 6.1 RPG and 6.3 APG on the season. He notched 24 points, six rebounds and six assists when these teams last met on April 4.
Philadelphia’s point guard may be set up for an even better performance tonight. Boston doesn’t have much size on the perimeter, and that size will be even more limited if Rondo doesn’t play. It’s very possible that Pressey, at 5-foot-11, could open the game as Carter-Williams’ defender.