Celtics Aim for Nine Straight Against 76ers

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Boston Celtics (17-4) at Philadelphia 76ers (7-14)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

8:00pm

Location: Wells Fargo Center - Philadelphia, PA

TV: Comcast SportsNet/TNT [] Radio: 850 AM WEEI

Game Thread [] Chat Room

The Boston Celtics will aim for their ninth straight victory when they take on the Philadelphia 76ers tonight at 8:00pm. 

The Celtics knocked off the Denver Nuggets - who were playing without Carmelo Anthony - at home last night, 105-89 behind 28 points, five rebounds, and four assists from Ray Allen. The Celtics increased their record to an Eastern Conference-leading 17-4 with the victory last night. 

Philadelphia, meanwhile, enters tonight's game with a 7-14 record, but has won its last two games over the Charlotte Bobcats and Cleveland Cavaliers by an average of 19 points per game. The two consecutive wins matches the 76ers' longest winning streak of the season. The 76ers are currently 2-2 against Atlantic Division opponents, but sport a 6-4 home record under first year head coach Doug Collins. The Sixers are currently 2-8 against opponents with a record of .500 or better and have lost three or more games three separate times this season.

Philly enters tonight's game ranked 17th in offensive efficiency (103.2 points/100 possessions) and 12th (perhaps surprisingly) in defensive efficiency (102.9 points allowed/100 possessions). 

Projected Starters

Celtics: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Shaquille O'Neal

Sixers: Jrue Holiday, Jodie Meeks, Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand, and Spencer Hawes

Injuries

For the Celtics, centers Kendrick Perkins (knee) and Jermaine O'Neal (knee) and guard Delonte West (wrist) are all out. Forward Marquis Daniels (jammed right thumb) is listed as probable. No word yet on Rajon Rondo's status, so I'll list him as probable. We'll keep you updated on his status for tonight's game as it becomes available closer to tip-off. 

The 76ers are healthy (must be nice). 

Who's Hot

For the Celtics, Ray Allen shot 9-14 from the field (3-5 from three-point nation) and 7-8 from the free throw line against the Nuggets last night en route to a game-high 28 points. 

For the 76ers, seven players scored in double-figures in the team's 117-97 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night. Thaddeus Young scored a game-high 26 points for Philly off the bench. 

Who's Not

For the Celtics, Marquis Daniels was held scoreless in just under 18 minutes against the Nuggets last night, missing both of his field goal attempts. 

For the 76ers, rookie Evan Turner played only 14 minutes in the team's victory on Tuesday night, registering just two points on 1-3 shooting. 

Key Matchup

Paul Pierce vs. Andre Iguodala

Skinny

The Celtics need to be wary of the always capable Andre Iguodala, who's consistently a triple-double threat. Philly's also benefiting from the mini-resurgence of Elton Brand, who's played in 20 of the team's 21 games this season, and boasts averages of 15.7 points and 7.9 rebounds. For the season, he's shooting 52.1 percent from the field. Speaking of resurgences, let's see how he fairs against Kevin Garnett's defense tonight. Garnett will need to pay attention to Brand outside of the paint, as he's perfectly capable of knocking down jump shots anywhere from 10-15 feet. In fact, according to Hoopdata, Brand's shooting exactly 50 percent from 10-15 feet this season. 

Glen Davis might have his hands full with Thaddeus Young off the bench tonight. Young's shooting 59.5 percent from the field this season, and can stretch his game out past the three-point line. For the most part, though, Young's doing most of his damage inside, shooting 72 percent on shots less than 10 feet from the rim and 77.8 percent on shots taken at the rim. 

Let's see how the Celtics fair on the second night of a back-to-back, as, so far, they are 2-2 on the second night of back-to-backs this season. Fortunately, three of the Celtics' five probable starters (Garnett, O'Neal, and Rondo) played under 31 minutes last night. A quick start and a first-quarter double-digit lead would be nice. The second unit maintaining that lead would be even better. 

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