Pregame Post-Ups: Stevens Has Seen Great Growth Out of Sixers Since Last Meeting
Wednesday, March 20 - Celtics at 76ers
Pregame – Stevens Has Seen Great Growth Out of Sixers Since Last Meeting
PHILADELPHIA – The Boston Celtics Wednesday night will get their second look at a new-look Philadelphia 76ers team, which has kicked into a higher gear since acquiring Tobias Harris ahead of the trade deadline.
Boston’s first glimpse came back on Feb. 12 at Wells Fargo Center – six days after Philly’s blockbuster trade – in a game that the C’s managed to win 112-109, despite being without leading scorer Kyrie Irving.
Though, as impressive as it seemed, that’s not a game C’s coach Brad Stevens wants his group placing a lot of stock into considering the circumstances of the matchup.
“You can’t expect a team six days after a trade to be clicking on all cylinders,” Stevens explained ahead of Wednesday’s tip-off in Philly. “We played really purposefully that night. We needed that one – that was coming off two really tough losses. We were without Kyrie, and our guys played really, really hard and well.”
The Celtics should be bolstered by Irving’s presence during Wednesday’s rematch, though they also realize that Philadelphia will have a stronger product on the floor than last time.
As Stevens indicated, it took Philly some time to adjust to Harris’ arrival. Over the past month, however, the versatile forward has done an excellent job of carving out a role in the 76ers fearsome starting unit. He has averaged 19.5 points per game since the trade, which is remarkable considering he’s playing along four other high-volume scorers in Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick, Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid.
“They just look more comfortable within the whole group,” Stevens said of the Sixers, who have won five straight entering Wednesday night. “You can tell there’s a lot more action for Jimmy and Tobias, and credit them because they’ve really figured out how to make that all work – that’s a heck of a group. I mean how often do you play against a starting five where everybody averaging 18 or more? It’s an excellent group, they’re hard to play against and you’ve gotta be really, really on your toes on both ends of the floor.”
- Taylor Snow