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Game #70 - Preview: Celtics vs. 76ers

Boston Celtics
Record: 55-14
Last Ten Games: 8-2
Points scored per game: 100.5
Points allowed per game: 90.4   
Pace Factor: 91.0 (17th of 30)
Offensive Rating: 110.1 (9th of 30)
Defensive Rating: 99.0 (1st of 30)

Philadelphia 76ers
Record: 35-35
Last Ten Games: 8-2
Points scored per game: 96.5
Points allowed per game: 95.9
Pace Factor: 90.5 (22nd of 30)
Offensive Rating: 106.2 (17th of 30)
Defensive Rating: 105.5 (8th of 30)

Hat tip to basketball-reference.com for info on the Celtics and the 76ers.

Rajon Rondo vs. Andre Miller
Ray Allen vs. Willie Green
Paul Pierce vs. Andre Iguodala
Kevin Garnett vs. Reggie Evans
Kendrick Perkins vs. Samuel Dalembert

Schedule Notes
The Celtics played Saturday night in New Orleans and then headed back to Boston after a week-long road trip. Meanwhile, Philadelphia lost in Orlando on Friday, beat New Jersey on Saturday and had Sunday off in preparation for this Atlantic Division showdown. I'll give a slight edge to the Celtics but would be willing to bet a sizeable amount of money that Donny Marshall, Tommy Heisohn or both bill this as a trap of sorts, as it is the first game at home after a challenging road trip. Regardless both teams are riding 8-2 streaks.

The Season Series
March 10 @ Philly - Celtics won 100-86
January 18 in Boston - Celtics won 116-89
December 5 @ Philly - Celtics won 113-93

Despite that success Boston will have to show up if it wants to win this one. All three of the previous contests, particularly the December meeting, were tougher than the scores indicate. Also this game means a lot more to the 76ers than it does to the Celtics in the grand scheme of things.

Interesting Read
I enjoyed David Aldridge's take on Allen Iverson's return to Philadelphia as a Denver Nugget, particularly this quote from Iverson:

"I had a big hand in me getting traded. Like I said, I always wanted to finish my career here in Philadelphia. The opportunity was there for me to do it. In a lot of ways, I made sure that didn't happen."
.
You don't often hear that. However, the bigger story is that the 76ers have moved on and are poised to make the playoffs, albeit in a weaker Eastern Conference.

2004 NBA Draft
As the dust continues to settle on the 2004 NBA draft it becomes more and more apparent that it was a solid draft. And yet a lot of those guys - Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon, Josh Childress, Luol Deng, Andre Iguodala and Josh Smith - and are still waiting for their next deal. Granted some of them turned money down. Okafor stands out in that regard. But Iguodala and Deng jump out at me mainly because a year ago I would have taken the man from Sudan over the former Arizona Wildcat without thinking twice. Now? I'm not so sure. That may be unfair because Deng has been injured and I still remember how well he guarded Paul Pierce last season.  But he is a part of that the mess in Chicago. Finally, the interactive map from that draft is a blast.

Robbed
I heard and read a fair amount this past All Star Weekend about how Dwight Howard should have been defending his championship and that Gerald Green was an undeserving winner in 2007. Never mind the fact that I don't buy that for a second. But Nate Robinson over Iguodala? That's a freaking joke. I'd also like a ruling on how many times Magic Johnson has claimed, "The Dunk Contest is back!" I loved it in 2000 (Vince Carter), 2003 (Jason Richardson), 2004 (Jason Richardson) and 2008 (Dwight Howard). I also genuinely enjoyed it in 2005 (Josh Smith), 2006 (Iguodala robbed) and 2007 (Gerald Green). That's a pretty good success rate.

Random Guy to Watch
Louis Williams is a lot of fun to watch. But check out Thaddeus Young from Georgia Tech. We could be hearing more from him in a few years.