Boston Celtics (17-4) at Philadelphia 76ers (7-14)
Thursday, December 9
8:00 PM ET
Game #22, Road Game #11
TV: TNT, CSNNE, TSN2
Radio: WEEI, WIP
Wells Fargo Center
Referees: Ken Mauer, Scott Wall, Leon Wood
The Celtics face the division rival 76ers for the first time this season. The fortunes of these two teams have changed since the days when Larry Bird and Doctor J went at each other. Boston has won 10 of the past 12 games vs the Sixers and Philly has not won at home over the Celtics since 3/30/07 (six straight losses).
The Celtics are 8-2 in their last 10 games while the Sixers are 5-5. The Celtics are 7-3 on the road while the Sixers are 5-5 at home. The Celtics are playing in the second of back to back games. The Sixers last played on Tuesday vs Cleveland. The Sixers have won three of their past four games and two in a row after starting the season 3-13 and they have also won 5 straight at home. The Celtics have won their last 8 games.
The Sixers handed the Celtics their only loss in the pre-season against the Celtics second and third units. The Celtics came into last night's game with a surprisingly full squad. However, Big Baby is battling a flu, Rondo still has the hamstring and foot problems, Shaq is still battling the knee problem and Marquis Daniels experienced some swelling in his thumb in last night's game.
The biggest danger for the Celtics in this one is taking this team for granted. They are better than their record indicates and they have been tough at home. The Celtics need to come in focused and put them away early so the starters can get some rest at the end. If they allow them to hang around, they could pay for it in the end.
PG: Rajon Rondo..................................................SG Ray Allen
C: Shaquille O'Neal
SF: Paul Pierce ................................. ............PF Kevin Garnett
Coach: Doc Rivers
Boston Bench Mob
Kendrick Perkins (knee) out
Jermaine O'Neal (knee) out
Delonte West (wrist) out
Rajon Rondo (hamstring, plantar fasciitis) probable
Nate Robinson (foot) probable
SF: Andre Iguodala .................................................. PF: Elton Brand
Paul Pierce vs Andre Iguodala
Kevin Garnett vs Elton Brand
Keys to the Game
Defense - The Celtics have been winning with their defense. They can't afford to let up in this game and must continue to make defense the priority.
Rebound - The team that puts out the most effort on the boards has a very good chance of winning the game as that effort carries over into other areas. The Celtics also limit second chance points by hustling for the rebounds.
Play 48 Minutes - The Celtics need to come out strong and play for 4 quarters. The Sixers are a team that is better than their record and if the Celtics aren't focused and let them gain some confidence, they could pay for it in the end.
Take it to the Hoop - The Sixers are very good at defending the 3 point line and so the Celtics can't settle for long jumpers. They have been very successful by taking the ball into the paint and need to continue to do that in this game as well.
Playing Down to Competition
The Celtics have played down to the level of their competition in the past. The Sixers don't seem to pose much of a threat, but as with every team, they all seem to get up to play the Celtics. Underestimating them will be a big mistake.