Celtics Host Sixers Without Pierce
Posted Dec 22 2006 6:07PM
For nearly a decade, a game between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers has provided a matchup between top scorers Paul Pierce and Allen Iverson.
Neither will be on the floor Friday night when the 76ers visit Boston, which will need to get by without its superstar for the near future.
The Celtics (10-14) learned Thursday that Pierce will be sidelined two to three weeks after an MRI revealed a stress reaction in his left foot. He also will miss Boston's upcoming five-game road trip, which starts Tuesday in Denver.
``I'm not sure if he's going to accompany the team, but he will not play on the road trip,'' Celtics spokesman Jeff Twiss said.
Pierce is averaging 26.6 points per game, but had exceeded that in four of his last five games, including a season-high 38 in last Friday's 119-114 victory over the Nuggets during which he originally suffered the injury.
The nine-year veteran swingman has missed just 11 games in his career, with the Celtics going 3-8 in those contests.
His absence leaves a gaping hole in a Boston lineup already missing second-leading scorer Wally Szczerbiak. Szczerbiak, who is averaging 18.1 ppg, has missed six of the last nine games with a sprained right ankle, but could return for next week's trip.
The injuries also leave the Celtics without a true veteran presence. The only non-injured player on the roster older than 24 is 28-year-old forward Brian Scalabrine, who has started just 26 games over six NBA seasons and missed Wednesday's 96-95 loss to Golden State due to the flu.
The defeat snapped Boston's season-high five-game winning streak, and dropped the Celtics to 4-9 this season at TD Banknorth Garden. They committed 22 turnovers - their most in the last 20 games - and fell behind by 10 points by halftime against a team which had only one previous road win.
``Just because you show up doesn't mean you're going to win,'' Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. ``I thought that's how we played early on, that we were here and things would take care of itself. And I think it was a bad lesson for us, and it was a great win for them.''
Facing the short-handed Celtics may be a great opportunity for the 76ers (5-19) to snap their 12-game losing streak, their longest since dropping 13 in a row in the 1996-97 season.
The last six losses came without Iverson, the disgruntled guard and former MVP who finally was traded to the Nuggets on Tuesday for point guard Andre Miller, forward Joe Smith and two draft picks.
However, Miller may not make it to Boston for his 76ers debut. A blizzard which dumped more than two feet of snow on the Denver metro area this week left Miller stuck in the Rockies. Miller was expected to fly to Philadelphia, Nuggets spokesman Eric Sebastian said Thursday.
``I'm packed and ready to go whenever the plane gets here,'' Miller said Thursday.
Miller's 13.0 scoring average can't compare to Iverson's 31.2, but Miller's 9.1 assists per game rank third in the NBA and may provide his Philadelphia teammates a welcome change of pace from Iverson, a player frequently criticized for not passing the ball enough.
The Sixers' skid continued with a 101-93 defeat to Indiana on Wednesday, the 11th time in the 12-game slide that Philadelphia failed to reach 100 points. Andre Iguodala and Kyle Korver led the team with 20 points each.
``I think we need some extra fresh legs coming off the bench,'' Iguodala said. ``We made a few mental mistakes near the end of the game and I think that's what it was from.''
The Celtics defeated Philadelphia 101-81 on Dec. 13 at the Wachovia Center as Pierce and Ryan Gomes each scored 18 points for Boston. The 76ers have lost three straight meetings with the Celtics overall, and dropped both their visits to Boston last season.
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