Pregame Post-Ups: In Brett Brown’s Eyes, C’s ‘Still Team to Beat’ in the East

Tuesday, Feb. 12 - Celtics at 76ers

Pregame – In Brett Brown’s Eyes, C’s ‘Still Team to Beat’ in the East

PHILADELPHIA – Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown views Tuesday’s matchup against the Boston Celtics as one of his team’s biggest tests of the season.

The Sixers reloaded at the trade deadline, adding a high-volume scorer in Tobias Harris to their already-imposing starting five. So, this matchup will provide them with a chance to see what they’re made of against the team that knocked them out of the Playoffs in five games last season, and against the team that Brown still views as perhaps the best team in the Eastern Conference.

“It’s all about how you get ready to try to – if we’re able to – come against them in the Playoffs and be better than we were last year,” Brown said ahead of Tuesday’s nationally televised tip-off at Wells Fargo Center. “Whether it’s Boston, or Milwaukee, or Toronto, or anybody like that. Because they (the Celtics) are elite; they are still, in my eyes, maybe the team to beat.”

The other two teams that Brown mentioned also restocked their respective rosters ahead of the deadline, while Boston stood pat. Still, Philly’s coach seems to believe that the Celtics have what it takes to go the distance in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.

The 76ers have seen the Celtics at their best twice this season: on opening night, when the C’s won by 18 points at TD Garden, and on Christmas Day, when Boston won by seven in overtime, again on its home court.

What stands out most to Brown about Boston is its shooting ability on one end of the court, and its tenacity on the other end.

“When they win, they turn people over,” Philly’s coach explained. “And when they win they hunt 3s; they really are good at producing 3s. And, if you go back to that game on Christmas Day, we had 19 turnovers – it’s too many. They [took] 41 3s – it’s too many.”

“They’re strong,” Brown added in regard to Boston’s defensive toughness. “You’ve gotta go body-body-ball if you’re going to drive. And if you drive, you better go to dunk. If you want to create a lead, you have to go forearm and fist and show a hand. If it’s limp, it’s going to get stolen.

“And then (when we're on defense), are we appropriately helping? We don’t want to get into scramble mode and just run around the gym and let them pick it apart with 3s.”

While Brown views this as a game for his team to test themselves against a potential playoff foe, it’s also worth noting that the Celtics will be without their leading scorer in Kyrie Irving, who is out with a strained right knee.

“I wish Kyrie was here,” Brown said, acknowledging the notable absence. “But it is a game in February, and it’s another incredible opportunity for us to learn.”

- Taylor Snow


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