12/1 Game Preview: 76ers at Celtics

Provided by Field Level Media

The key question entering Friday night's matchup between the visiting Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics involves Philadelphia center Joel Embiid, who was scratched from Wednesday's loss to New Orleans because of an illness.

Will Embiid play against Boston? And if he does play, how effective will he be?

Embiid, who is officially listed as questionable due to illness, has appeared in 16 of Philadelphia's 18 games this season and is averaging 32.0 points, 11.3 rebounds and 6.6 assists per contest. The 76ers are 0-2 when he's not in the lineup.

Philadelphia never led in Wednesday's 124-114 loss to the Pelicans and trailed by as many as 16 points in the first quarter. Philadelphia's Tyrese Maxey scored 33 points in the loss.

"We cannot use (Embiid's absence) as an excuse, and we won't use it as an excuse," 76ers coach Nick Nurse said. "What put us in a big hole is we didn't go out and execute our defensive schemes the way we wanted to from the start of the game."

The 76ers gave up 39 points in the first quarter and trailed by 15 entering the second.

"I don't know if we won (from) there on out, but we lost the second quarter by five, it was probably close in the third and we, for sure, won the fourth," Maxey said. "You have to stick to the game plan, go out there and be aggressive from the tip."

Boston will be without center Kristaps Porizingis, who hasn't played since injuring his left calf Nov. 24 against Orlando. The Celtics said Porzingis would be re-evaluated in early December but have not offered a timetable for when he may return. Porzingis is averaging 18.9 points and 6.7 rebounds per contest in 15 games.

The Celtics, who have not lost in eight home games this season, are coming off Tuesday's 124-97 victory over the visiting Chicago Bulls that allowed them to reach the quarterfinals of the NBA's in-season tournament. Boston had to win that game by at least 23 points to have any chance of prevailing in a three-way tiebreaker with Orlando and Brooklyn.

"To be honest, it was a little weird (needing to win by so much), but the ultimate goal was to come out and get a win and that's what we did," Boston's Jaylen Brown said. "It's tough because that's just not how the game is supposed to be played. One, you've got to respect your opponents."

The Celtics made a season-high 21 3-pointers in the victory. Al Horford and Jrue Holiday each had four.

Holiday, who returned after missing two games with a sprained right ankle, collected 14 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.

"Any time you add Jrue back into the lineup, it's going to help your defense," Celtics point guard Derrick White said. "He does so many things out there that impact winning. It's nice to have him back."

Friday's game will be the rivals' third meeting this season. Embiid had 27 points and 10 rebounds when Philadelphia prevailed 106-103 at home on Nov. 8, and scored 20 points in Boston's 117-107 road victory on Nov. 15.

Boston was missing Porzingis and Jaylen Brown in the Nov. 15 win. Jayson Tatum scored a game-high 29 points in that victory.

--Field Level Media