(Cues theme song to WWE’s tag team “The New Day”.)
It is a new day, but the Philadelphia 76ers aren’t fueled by “Pancake Power”. They have been fueled by the additions of “Bobi & Tobi” as well as other additions Mike Scott, Jonathon Simmons, and James Ennis.
The Sixers have won two in a row since the Clippers trade that brought Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic, and Mike Scott to South Philadelphia. The team struck gold against the Denver Nuggets on Friday night – beating the #2 team in the Western Conference, 117-110. Two days ago, the Lakers came into town and got their doors blown off by 23.
I know this is a very, very, very small sample size, but the Sixers have scored 130 points per game in the last two games shooting .538 from the field (.477 from three). It’s only two games, but damnit, the shooting performance from this team is insane. (The ORtg for this team is also crazy-town: 115 on Friday night, and 135 against the Lakers. What!?!)
Harris looked more comfortable in his second game in a Sixers uniform getting 22 points, six rebounds, and six assists. He also went 3-5 from three. Joel Embiid did his usual thing of getting double-doubles (37 points, 14 rebounds). After a season high 34 points including six threes on Friday night against the Nuggets, JJ Redick came back with a 21-point performance against the Lakers on Sunday.
The season defining 12-game stretch concludes tonight, and with a win, the Sixers will have gone 8-4 in those games. That’s quite the accomplishment when you look at the teams they beat. They’ve won four of their last six and six of their last ten. Now, the Boston Celtics come for their first visit to Wells Fargo this season.
They’re doing so without All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving. Irving went down with a sprained right knee in the Celtics loss to the Clippers – a loss that saw Boston blow a more than 20-point lead at home. The Celtics won’t have the personal thorn in my side, big man Aron Baynes. Baynes has been out of the Celtics lineup because of a foot contusion since February 3rd.
Despite that, Boston has remained a steady team in the Eastern Conference. They’re still the five seed, and they’ve still won seven of their last ten games. Let’s not take this team for granted like some did last year in the Eastern Conference Semis. The Celtics are still plenty dangerous with Jayson Tatum, Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Al Horford, and whatever they can get from Gordon Hayward. (Yes. I said “Marcus Smart”. Why? Smart always seems to play well against the Sixers – like Aron Baynes.)
The reports of Hayward’s demise may be a little exaggerated, too. He’s not the Hayward of old, but he isn’t completely useless. The former Butler product had a disastrous December, but he averaged 12/3/3 with a .557 TS% in January. In five games this month, that TS% has gone up to .605, and his plus/minus is +16.7.
This will be Boston’s third game against the Sixers this season – unless you want to count this game as the first given all the parts that have moved around in the last week. The team that went 0-2 in two games in Boston is not the team the Celtics will face, tonight, nor is it the team they could face in the playoffs. (The same could be said about the Celtics who will be without Irving.)
For another primer to tonight’s game, our own Adam Aaronson did a quick Q&A with Andrew Doxy at Celtics Blog. It’s always fun when Philadelphia teams and Boston teams get together. Especially when certain well-known Boston sports superfans have thoughts like this on Twitter:
BS Podcast: @chrisbosh on the NBA turning into AAU, LeBron, AD, KG and much more — https://t.co/U4OA0wzluw— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) February 12, 2019
The Rewatchables: A Star is Born w/ me, Fennessey and Dobbins — https://t.co/o23Kd4BTJM
Me if the Celts lose to Philly by 20 tonight pic.twitter.com/nBcUfB2Upq
(Ignore the link to Bill’s podcasts and focus on what I assume would be Simmons Tommen Baratheon-ing off a balcony in Los Angeles somewhere if the Sixers beat the brakes off the Celtics, tonight.)
Come on, Sixers. Make this happen. As I’ve said many times on Twitter: “salty Bill Simmons is my FAVORITE Bill Simmons”.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Boston Celtics
When: 8:00 pm EST
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic
Vegas: Sixers -6.5, O/U 225