W2W4: C's vs. 76ers (Game 48 of 82)
- RONDO ON B2B?: The Celtics have exercised extreme caution with Rajon Rondo, including sitting him out on the second night of a back-to-back a week ago in Washington. With Rondo's minute restriction loosening and three days off looming after Wednesday's game, the Celtics might be enticed to give Rondo some playing time, but coach Brad Stevens sounded like he was still debating the topic on Tuesday (and likely leaning towards caution). In a battle of two of the four worst teams in basketball, there shouldn't be any additional motivation to play Rondo unless he's 100 percent ready for the grind of back-to-back basketball.
- PHILLY IN FOCUS: The 76ers were the feel-good story at the start of the season, winning their first three games of the season (including an opening-night win over the Heat). The team posted another four-game winning streak spanning into the new calendar year and was 12-21 earlier this month. The 76ers have since lost 10 of their last 12 overall. Philly ranks 29th in offensive rating and 25th in defensive rating. Looking for something they do well? The 76ers top the league in pace, trying to crank the tempo in order to mask their deficiencies.
- COMING HOME: No JumboTron tribute this time around, but area product Michael Carter-Williams will make his first visit to the TD Garden as a pro. Carter-Williams, a Hamilton native, has been maybe the most pleasant surprise of the season for Philadelphia. The 11th overall pick in June's draft, Carter-Williams is averaging 17.4 points, 6.7 assists, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.4 steals over 34.8 minutes per game.
- LOOSE BALLS: The Celtics are currently percentage points ahead of the 76ers in the standings; a Celtics loss would flip-flop the two. ... This is the first of four meetings with a rematch in Philadelphia next week. (then two games in April). ... Both teams are riding three-game losing streaks. ... How will Boston respond to getting absolutely throttled in New York? Its defense has to be better than what it showed against the Knicks.
(Read full game preview)
Play Podcast ESPN NFL analyst Tedy Bruschi weighs in on the responsibility Tom Brady shoulders for the Patriots, Rob Gronkowski's physicality and how New England will use Darrelle Revis.
Play Podcast Buster Olney talks to Alex Speier, Karl Ravech and Justin Havens about whether the Red Sox will move Jon Lester before the trade deadline, pace of play and much more.
Play Podcast NFL Films' Greg Cosell covers the Cowboys' defense, Rob Gronkowski's impact, Darrelle Revis' performance last season, the Giants' talent level and the outlook for the Cardinals.
Play Podcast Buster Olney and Keith Law talk about the Tigers' acquisition of Joakim Soria and whether it's wise to trade within the division. Plus, Matt Gelb on the Phillies' plans.