It’s hard to believe there are almost three months left in the regular season, and tonight is the last time the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics will face off before a possible playoff series in the spring. One of the few sources of consistent comfort for Sixers fans during this up-and-down season has been the team’s success against the rival Celtics. Philadelphia has already secured the season series against their Beantown foes, winning the first three games between the teams, including a 115-109 victory in Boston back in mid-December. They’ll look to complete the season sweep tonight in front of yet another nationally-televised audience.
Like the Sixers, Boston will have two representatives in this month’s All-Star Game, with Jayson Tatum earning his first appearance alongside veteran Kemba Walker. Tatum returned to the court Thursday following a groin injury, and may still be dealing with a bit of a minutes limit. Walker has an injury concern of his own, as he is listed as questionable with knee soreness. However, you have to think the Celtics will give it everything they have to come away with at least one win this season against their division rival and Walker will be on the floor.
On the Philadelphia sideline, Josh Richardson remains out, which is one less man to throw at Walker. They’ll also miss his offensive firepower; J-Rich scored 29 points in the last meeting against Boston at the Wells Fargo Center. However, the Sixers should have Al Horford back on the court after he missed Thursday’s loss in Atlanta. Horford seems to be the deciding factor between these clubs, and the Sixers’ size has been a huge boon for them in coming away with the initial three wins this season, forcing the Celtics into an endless series of mid-range jumpers.
Whatever you want to say about the Sixers seemingly adopting a “flip the switch” mentality, such a theory would certainly mean the team comes out firing in primetime against their biggest rival. Expect Joel Embiid to have a more focused effort and play to the big stage, Ben Simmons to continue backing up his All-Star selection against a couple guys with whom he’ll share a huddle in a few weeks, and Matisse Thybulle to show all the ASSistant coaches what they got wrong (you’re my Rising Star, Matisse).
Sweep the leg, Sixers!
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Boston Celtics
When: 8:30 pm ET
Where: TD Garden, Boston, MA
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic
Philadelphia: Josh Richardson (out - hamstring); Al Horford (probable - knee)
Boston: Robert Williams (out - hip); Enes Kanter (questionable - hip); Kemba Walker - questionable - knee)