After taking care of business in their tailor-made bounceback game against the Hornets, the 76ers will travel up to Boston for the second game of their 3 game road trip in a rematch of last year Eastern Conference Semifinals.
The 76ers held the Hornets to 62 points, the lowest by a 76ers opponent in over 25 years. Jrue Holiday had 14 points and 12 assists on the night, and is now averaging 18.0 points, and 9.5 assists per game with a 54.4% true shooting percentage through 4 games, albeit with far too many turnovers (5 per game) for Doug Collins' liking.
While not quite a breakout game, Evan Turner had by far his best game of the season against the Hornets. Turner was shooting 28% heading into the game, but he was able to get to the foul line area with ease against the Hornets and was making his 15 foot shot. If that could propel him into effectiveness that would be a big help for the 76ers.
As for the Celtics, they have not been playing all that great in this short season. They have a 2-2 record to this point, but their wins have both come against the Wizards. Offensively, they're 25th in the league in offensive rating, which is a slight uptick over where they were last year. A fairly efficient team on first shot (11th in effective field goal percentage), but they're held back by turning the ball over slightly more than average and by being the worst offensive rebounding team in the league, a repeat of their ranking from last year.
The big change in this years Celtics team so far in this young season has been on the defensive end, where their defensive rating has fallen from best in the league all the way down to 17th. Their problems to this point have been the opposite of their offensive woes: they struggle to defend the initial shot, but give up virtually no offensive rebounds (best in the league at 79.9% defensive rebounding percentage) and don't allow their opponent to get to the line much. Leading the charge on the defensive glass has been Kevin Garnett, who is averaging an astounding 8.3 defensive rebounds per game in just over 30 minutes, good for a 32.8% defensive rebounding percentage.
This should be a good test for Jrue, on both ends of the floor. Rondo has played impeccably on the offensive end of the court, and a good pressure defender in Rondo and a good pick and roll defender in Garnett in theory could make life difficult for Holiday, even though he had success against them in the playoffs last year. If Lavoy Allen can find whatever he channeled for last years playoff series, that would be beneficial as well.
Celtics 79, Sixers 74. This 76ers offense so far has been putrid, and right now I'm not sure I can see them getting on track against a tough matchup for them. The wild card is Evan Turner. If he can provide an unexpected source of offense while playing reasonably good defense against Paul Pierce, the 76ers could steal a game.
And if you find yourself in Boston looking for tickets to the game, here's the place to look.