Thursday, December 9, 2010
Game 22: Celtics vs. 76ers
By Chris Forsberg
at Wells Fargo Center, 8 p.m. | TNT, WEEI (850 AM)
||(17-4, 7-3 away)
||-- vs. --
|| (7-14, 6-4 home)
GAME PREVIEW (via Stats Inc.)
Since Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen joined forces with Paul Pierce three seasons ago, Boston hasn't lost very often.
The Celtics' current "Big Three" has never lost in Philadelphia.
Boston seeks its seventh consecutive victory in Philadelphia and its ninth in a row overall Thursday night when it opens a three-game road trip against the surging 76ers.
One of the NBA's storied rivalries, the series between the Celtics and 76ers has been one-sided -- especially at the Wells Fargo Center -- since Garnett and Allen arrived in Boston. The Celtics are 6-0 there since the start of the 2007-08 season, and 10-2 in the series overall during that span. They've done it with stifling defense, limiting the Sixers to 91.0 points per game in the road meetings including an average of 80.0 in last season's two victories.
The Celtics (17-4) have taken a similar path to victory during their current eight-game winning streak, allowing an average of 87.3 points and holding all but one opponent below 90. The run continued Wednesday with a 105-89 home win over Denver.
In addition to another impressive defensive showing, Boston showed plenty of scoring prowess. Allen led the way with 28 points while Pierce and Garnett chipped in 17 apiece. Allen made 9 of 14 shots from the field, including 3 of 5 from 3-point range.
"When he makes his shots you just assume it," coach Doc Rivers told the Celtics' official Twitter page. "When he doesn't you wanna talk about it. That's Ray Allen."
Boston now must face a Philadelphia club which is playing much better than its record. The Sixers (7-14) have won five in a row at home, four of five overall and have scored just 10 points fewer than their opponents this season despite being seven games under .500.
"It's very refreshing," forward Thaddeus Young said. "Any time we can go out there and get four out of five victories, it's big for the team. We need those wins that help us make a push for the playoffs and help get us in the mix for things."
Read the full preview HERE.
FORSBERG'S THREE THINGS TO WATCH
- Revenge on their mind: Finally, the Celtics can seek atonement against the team that put the lone blemish on their preseason record when Philly emerged with a 103-92 triumph against Boston's javyee starting lineup. Joking aside, the 76ers have quietly won four of their last five games, throttling a Cleveland squad that beat Boston earlier this year by 20 points on Tuesday. Playing the second night of a back-to-back on the road, the Celtics can't just expect to ride the conveyor belt and emerge with a win.
- Injury watch: The Celtics essentially operated with 12 healthy bodies Wednesday night against the Nuggets, but it will be interesting to see how guys bounce back Thursday, particularly the bench. Glen Davis is getting over the flu, while Marquis Daniels experienced some swelling in his right thumb after taking a fastball from Nate Robinson there in the first half against the Nuggets. Boston's starters have been otherworldly lately, but the bench might need another strong effort like Sunday in New Jersey.
- Shot selection: The 76ers rank sixth in the league at defending the 3-point shot (opponents shooting 32.7 percent against them) and Boston can't get too triple happy, particularly with weakened legs on the second night of a back-to-back, and coming off a game in which it connected on a mere 4 of 15 3-pointers (26.7 percent). This would be a good night to try to push that points in the paint number back into the 50s after dipping to 38 points Wednesday against Denver.