at Philadelphia 76ers (20-20) at Boston Celtics (34-11)
Regular Season Game #46, Home Game #25
Thursday, January 18, 2018
7:00 PM ET
TV: TNT, NBCSB
Radio: 200.7 WZLX, 97.5 The Fanatic
TD GardenProbable Starters
PG Kyrie Irving........... SG: Jaylen Brown
C: Aron Baynes
SF: Jayson Tatum .............. PF: Al Horford
Gordon Hayward (ankle) out
Marcus Smart (illness) questionable
Abdel Nader (illness) questionable
Guerschon Yabusele (illness) questionable
Kyrie Irving (shoulder) questionable Two Way Players
Brad Stevens Probable Starters
PG: Ben Simmons ................. SG: Jerryd Bayless
C: Joel Embiid
SF: Robert Covington .............. PF: Dario SaricSixers Reserves
Timothe Luwawu Cabarrot
JJ Redick (fibula) out
Markelle Fultz (shoulder) out
Furkan Korkmaz (foot) out
Richaun Holmes (gastroenteritis) out Two Way Players
James Michael McAdoo
Brett BrownGame Notes
This is the 4th and final meeting between these two teams this season. The Celtics got their first win of the season on October 20 against the Sixers, winning 102-92. That began the Celtics 16 game win streak. The Celtics also won 108-97 on November 30. They played one week ago in London with the Celtics coming back from 22 points down to win 114-103. These two teams also met twice in the preseason with the Celtics coming out on top in both games.
The Celtics are coming off an overtime loss to the Pelicans after winning 7 straight and are 8-2 in their last 10 games. They are 18-6 at home. The Sixers are coming off a win over the Raptors (Thank you Philly), and are 6-4 in their last 10 games. They are 10-10 on the road. The Celtics are looking for a sweep of the season (and preseason) while the Sixers would love to get a win in the final game between them.
In the Sixers win over the Raptors, JJ Redick bumped knees with someone and has a bone edema and a cortical crack and will be out of this game. I'm guessing that Jerryd Bayless will start in his place. Markelle Fultz is still out and may be trying to fix his broken shot now that his shoulder is pretty much healed. Back up center Richaun Holmes is out with gastroenteritis and Furkan Korkmaz is out with a foot injury.
The Celtics may be short handed as well with Abdel Nader was out for Tuesday's game with an illness (presumably the flu) and now Marcus Smart, and Guerschon Yabusele missed practice with an illness and all three are questionable for this game. Word is that Tommy Heinsohn is also out with the flu. Along with that trio, Kyrie Irving reported shoulder soreness after Tuesday's loss to the Pelicans and is also listed as questionable for this game. I'm guessing that, especially with Kyrie, they will be cautious if he still has any soreness at all.
With Marcus Smart and Kyrie Irving both questionable, I'm not sure who will start. I've included Kyrie as the starting point guard, but it's possible that Smart, or if he is out Rozier or Larkin may start at the point. I'm going to say that Baynes will start at center since Brad went with him as starting center in last week's game in London. Key Matchups
Kyrie Irving vs Ben Simmons
The 6'10"Simmons will have a distinct height advantage on any point guard the Celtics start. Simmons is averaging 16.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.9 steals, and 1.0 blocks. He is shooting 51.3% from the field and has not shot a 3 pointer this season. He is shooting just 55.6% from the free throw line and has been the subject of "hack a Ben" strategy from time to time this season. He had 16 points, 2 rebounds, and 3 assists in last week's game in London. He didn't get to the free throw line in that game. If neither Kyrie or Marcus can play, either Rozier or Larkin may get the start at the point unless Brad goes completely out of the box to start someone else there.
Al Horford vs Joel Embiid
Joel Embiid will also have a height advantage on Al Horford and Horford will also have an experience advantage on Embiid. Embiid is averaging 23.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.9 blocks per game. He will definitely be a tough cover for any of the Celtics who try to stay with him and limit his effectiveness, however, the Celtics have done a good job in the 3 games so far and hopefully will continue that in this game. Honorable Mention
Jason Tatum vs Dario Saric
Saric has played very well against the Celtics this season. He finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds the last time these two teams met in Boston. He is averaging 13.5 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 2.6 assists this season for the Sixers. The Celtics' rookie needs to play defense on him to make him work for his points and he also has to play well on the offensive end to make him work on the other end as well. With Redick out, Saric may take on a bigger role in the offense. Keys to the GameDefense
- Defense wins games and the Celtics have been winning with their defense. The Celtics have the best defense in the league with a defensive rating of 99.7. The Sixers aren't exactly slouches on the defensive end with a defensive rating of 103.3, which is 6th in the league. Defense wins games and the Celtics need every player to make defense a priority. The Celtics gave up 118 points to the Pelicans and they can't afford to get lax on defense against the Sixers or they will end up with their second loss in a row.
- The Celtics have to be the more aggressive team and go after all the loose balls, and aggressively go after rebounds, and be aggressive on defense. They also have to be aggressive in taking the ball into the paint. The more aggressive team will usually get the benefit of the whistles. The Celtics need to be the hardest working and toughest team on the court. We know that the Sixers will be aggressive and play hard and the Celtics need to match their effort. No Hero Ball
- The Celtics play best when they move the ball and find the open man. When they dribble too much and when each player tries to do too much, the offense stalls and it throws off every other area of their game. We saw this against the Pelicans. Too much hero ball and not enough team. They need to get back to playing team ball. The Celtics need to also be careful with their passes as the Sixers are 6th in the league with 8.5 steals per game and they average 16.5 point off turnovers per game. If the Celtics get careless, the Sixers will make them pay. Rebound
- The Celtics need to crash the boards as they can't score if they don't have the ball. The Sixers are first in the league with 47.6 rebounds per game while the Celtics are 8th with 44.7 rebounds per game. The Sixers are 7th with 13.8 second chance points and 8th with 47.1 points in the paint. The Celtics have to work very hard to beat the Sixers to rebounds to avoid giving them extra points on second chance baskets. Play the Right Way
- Against the Pelicans, the Celtics played way too much hero ball. The ball didn't move like it usually does. They didn't play team defense like they should. They shot 50 (yes FIFTY) three pointers and made just 19 of them. They were outscored in the paint 50-30. The Celtics need to rely less on the outside shot and get to the paint more. They need to move the ball and play as a team on both ends of the court. X-Factors Depth
- The Celtics depth will be tested in this one if all of the questionable players are unable to play. The Sixers depth will also be tested somewhat with their starting shooting guard and backup center both expected to be out. Whose reserves will give their team the boost that they will need. Home Game
- Both teams played in London and both teams have played one game since returning so they are both even there. The Celtics have the home court advantage and they need to feed off the energy from the crowd. Young teams like the Sixers sometimes struggle on the road and hopefully that will be the case in this game.