Up until this week, it was clear that the Sixers worst performance of the season was the dreadful Detroit Pistons game. The Sixers shot under 30% and got outworked by a bad team that night. Then the Timberwolves came to town Tuesday night and decided they wanted to be the team that the Sixers had their worst game against. Jerks. Between terrible shot selection and awful pick and roll defense, among other things, the Sixers didn't stand a chance and got their butts handed to them at home.
That's the bad news. The good news is that the Sixers bounced back strong in their first "worst performance of they year". After the Pistons loss, they went on to win 3 games in a row. Will the Sixers be able to bounce back again this time against a tougher opponent?
Entering this game, both the Sixers and Celtics are 10-8 and sit third and fourth in the Atlantic Division respectively. If either of these teams can find a way to win both tonight and tomorrow, they'd put themselves in better position to gain ground on the Nets and Knicks at the top of the division.
The C's boast the NBA's leader in assists per game (12.9) PG Rajon Rondo, Kevin "Master of the Illegal Screen" Garnett, and Paul "AHHHHH, FOUL!" Pierce. A real strength of the Celtics offense is their pick and roll game. As I've already mentioned a billion times, KG sets really good screens. Are they often illegal? Well, that's up for debate, but the majority of them just aren't going to be called so the Sixers have to work through that. After KG sets a great screen (something the Sixers are completely incapable of doing - especially Spencer Hawes), Rondo will look to attack the rim and either create a chance for himself or dish the ball out and get a shot from the perimeter from the likes of Pierce, Courtney Lee, or Jason Terry. If Rondo doesn't fully commit to attacking the basket, he can run the pick and pop which usually ends up in an easy jumper at the high post for Garnett or Brandon Bass*.
Hopefully the Sixers find a way to limit Hawes minutes because he's been horrible at covering the pick and roll, especially against Boston. Look no further than the playoff series last year.
*Death By Brandon Bass Jumpers is such a cruel and unusual form of torture that it has been outlawed in 128 countries worldwide. Unfortunately, America isn't one of them.
The Celtics are one of the worst rebounding teams in the league with a Total Rebound Rate of 47.08. Part of this is because they shoot well: they have a TS% of 55.2%. Unfortunately the Sixers, due to a lackluster front court, aren't exactly rebounding stalwarts, but maybe they can find a way to get second chance shots and prevent the C's from doing the same.
With a 101.7 Defensive Efficiency rating, the Celtics appear to be an average defensive team. Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner should look to attack the rim and get to the free throw line like they did in their first match up (combined 11-13) to get some easy points.
- Nick Young aka Swaggy P won't be available for tonight's game. He's still dealing with a toe issue. Get well soon Swaggy.
- Doug Collins is looking for more production from his bench. The Sixers currently rank 26th in bench scoring due to the departure of Lou Williams and the promotion of Thad Young to a starter.
- According to reports it seems unlikely Collins will change the starting lineup, but it's been speculated he might move Jason Richardson to the bench and start Dorell Wright. Sounds unlikely but something to watch.
- Can Dorell step up in Swaggy's absence? He performed well against Boston before.
- MORE ARNETT MOULTRIE, PLEASE
- Spencer Hawes is due for a Wight Howard performance sooner or later, right? Probably not. He's bad.
- Philadelphia 76ers Tickets
- Complete Celtics vs 76ers coverage
- Boston perspective: CelticsBlog
The Sixers come out strong after that pathetic loss to the T-Wolves. Sixers win 99-98.
Tip is at 7. GameThread will be up at 6:30. You can catch the game on ESPN or CSN. You can listen live on the radio at 97.5 The Fanatic.