Watch It! - 76ers at Celtics
Here are five things to watch out for when the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers meet at 7:30 p.m. tonight at TD Garden.
We’ve wondered since early July who, exactly, would be in Boston’s starting five on opening night. We’ll finally get that answer tonight.
Brad Stevens is unlikely to tip his hand regarding the starting five until shortly ahead of tip-off. However, there is information available that may indicate which starting group he’ll use tonight.
The fivesome of Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, David Lee and Tyler Zeller started together during four of Boston’s seven preseason matchups, including the final two. It appears that Stevens is fond of this group, and for good reason. They have displayed very good chemistry and have been strong at both ends of the court. Look for this group to take the floor together tonight for the opening tip.
Be Smart with the Ball
The Philadelphia 76ers aren’t much, but they certainly are long and athletic. Stevens pointed that out before, during and after Boston’s preseason matchup with Philly Friday night in Manchester, N.H.
Length and athleticism takes away passing lanes, as the Celtics quickly learned during that contest. They committed 18 turnovers during the game, with 10 players coughing it up at least once.
There is no doubt that Boston has the upper hand in talent in this matchup, but to comfortably win this game, it must take care of the ball.
Can Philly Score?
No. 3 overall pick Jahlil Okafor will provide an offensive boost to the 76ers this season. The question is, will it be enough?
Philadelphia lacks much offensive power and such was evident throughout the preseason. The Sixers scored 97 or fewer points during five of their seven games, including a putrid 65-point total against the C’s Friday night.
Couple Philly’s underwhelming offense with Boston’s staunch defense, which ranked fourth-best among NBA teams during the preseason in terms of opponent scoring, and the Sixers have some problems. They simply may not have enough offensive firepower to win this game.
Boston went 6-1 during the preseason. That win total stood as the second-highest in the league during the exhibition season.
There is quite a bit of momentum surrounding this franchise following that successful preseason and the team’s surprising finish to the 2014-15 season. Multiple media outlets and/or stats gurus have predicted that Boston will win 50 or more games this season.
Dropping tonight’s game to one of the worst teams in the league would slash a portion of that momentum from Boston’s corner. A win, which is expected, would maintain the momentum this franchise has worked so hard to build over the past eight months.
This little tidbit won’t affect the game, but it sure will draw some attention: The Celtics will debut their brand new parquet floor tonight.
The floor, which has been in production for the past two months and was laid down for the first time Tuesday night following the conclusion of the Boston Bruins game. A preview of the court has already gone viral on our Instagram account.
As if they didn’t already have enough motivation, the new parquet is just another reason for Celtics fans to get fired up for tonight’s opener. It’s a safe assumption that the Garden will be rocking come 7:30 p.m.