As much as I dislike the Celtics, I can’t help but feel a little bad for them as they’re about to go 0-3 when their short-handed roster takes on the 76ers tonight. The Sixers have a mostly healthy roster, a solid rotation and what should eventually be a net positive bench, and a home crowd ready for the team to break out. Joel Embiid is playing, and he might not be as limited as we were led to believe.
But not all is bad for Boston. Gordon Hayward’s ankle injury deflated the beginning of a revelatory season for the Celtics, but it ultimately may have some long-term positives. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are starting and playing big minutes and if the prognosis for Hayward is truly for a full recovery, it might end up working in their favor if they get additional experience in his absence.
In the meantime, the Celtics don’t seem to match up well here. Kyrie Irving is going to be a load to handle, and Sixers guards struggled containing John Wall on Wednesday. The rest of the matchup bends in the Sixers’ favor. The Celtics’ best defensive option against Joel Embiid is a man known not for his on-court value but for his locker room shower presence. Al Horford’s a good player, despite what some people might want you to believe, but he’s so small compared to Embiid that it’s not a fair matchup.
Game time: 7:00 ET, NBC Sports Philly; pre-game starts at 6:30, along with our game thread
- Please don’t post Gordon Hayward’s injury pictures in any comment threads on this site. You’ll be banned.
- Marcus Smart will also reportedly miss the game with a knee injury. Smart typically gives the Sixers fits with his defense, so this is another key roster change.
- Aside from J.J. Redick at the shooting guard position defensively, the Sixers have a very big roster. I’m inclined to think they have that advantage here over the Celtics especially but also the entire NBA and, furthermore, should try to play bigger than their opponents as much as possible. The easiest path for the Sixers to becoming a great team is by building a dominant defense with Embiid and Robert Covington as the linchpins.
- I know this is old news, but given the above statement, let me say I really miss Nerlens Noel. If Amir Johnson tries to score 1-on-5 again tonight and foul out in 15 minutes I’ll scream.
- Dario Saric struggled in game one in his role as the backup’s backup center, as Ian Mahinmi and Marcin Gortat are legitimate 7-footers which can stick with him. Boston has a smaller roster overall, so look for Dario to hopefully make an impact as the backup 5.
- The Sixers’ rotation did not include Justin Anderson, Nik Stauskas, or Jahlil Okafor in game one. If anyone, I’d expect Anderson to maybe get some time in small-ball lineups to crack the rotation. Nik and Jahlil will probably play out their rookie contracts in garbage time and as injury replacements only.