Following the conclusion of their season-long 6-game homestand, the Sixers head to Boston tonight on a SEGABABA to play the East-leading Celtics. Since Embiid played last night and this is a back-to-back, he is expected to miss action tonight. Simmons is likely to be a go after missing time over the weekend with a sore elbow.
The Celtics own the season’s longest winning streak and have impressively overachieved relative to expectations. While Kyrie Irving has received a lot of national publicity and plaudits for the Celtics’ play, their success has largely been powered by their defense, which is currently the top ranking unit in the league. Since recording their first loss since the streak began, their D has dropped from the historically great levels they had been playing at, but it still remains good.
The catalyst for their success has been a switch heavy scheme that relies on perfect communication and impressive rebounding from every position on the court. Ex-Sixers’ VP of Basketball Operations Ben Falk wrote an outstanding piece about the sustainability of the Celtics’ defense on Cleaning the Glass (subscription only).
Expect this game to be a slog on both ends of the court. The Sixers may not be nearly as dominant defensively without Embiid, but Robert Covington and Ben Simmons are still a formidable defensive backcourt, and Amir Johnson is an impactful defender on his day. This will be a case in which both teams’ strengths are on the defensive end, while both teams struggle on O.
If Amir can anchor the defense reasonably and the Sixers can limit their turnovers, the Sixers have a decent chance of sticking in this game.
However, given that this is a SEGABABA and our best player will be missing in action against a team that has been far and away the best in the East so far this season, it could also get ugly.
Projected Starting Lineups:
Ben Simmons - JJ Redick - Robert Covington - Dario Saric - Amir Johnson
Kyrie Irving - Jaylen Brown - Jayson Tatum - Aaron Baynes - Al Horford