The Celtics just barely beat the Knicks in overtime on Sunday and now are looking for two wins in a row, something they haven't been able to do recently. In the first meeting between these two teams, the Celtics blew out the Sixers 105-74 in Philly. The Celtics will be at home for this one, but home hasn't been much of an advantage so far this season as they have lost just one game on the road but have lost 3 games at home.
The Sixers will be coming in to the Garden with revenge on their minds, especially if they have seen the way the Celtics have been playing lately. The Sixers haven't been playing all that great themselves, having lost their last three games and are just 2-5 on the road. The Celtics have said that they are looking to start a run now that will up to Christmas and a dominant win in this game would be a good start to that run.
The Sixers are shaping up to be a one man team. Most of the Sixers offense will run through Andre Iguodala. He currently leads the team in points per game (18.2), rebounds (6.5), assists (5.7) and steals (1.8). The only category he doesn’t lead his team in is blocks. It is safe to say that if the Celtics can slow down Iguodala, it will go a long way toward slowing down the team. The bulk of the task of slowing down Iguodala will go to Paul Pierce who has been able to do a decent job of it in the past.
The Sixers are playing in the second of back to back games and in the 3rd game in 4 nights while the Celtics have been off since Sunday. They lost a tough one last night as their 108-107 loss to the Wizards on the road went right down to the wire. Hopefully, fatigue for the Sixers and rest for the Celtics will translate into a win for home team.
Rajon Rondo PPG 10.8 APG 8.9 SPG 2.6
Ray Allen PPG 15.0 APG 3.2 3P% .304
Paul Pierce PPG 19.6 RPG 4.9 APG 3.8
Kevin Garnett PPG 13.2 RPG 7.6 BPG 1
Kendrick Perkins PPG 10.5 RPG 7.1 BPG 2.1
Lou Williams PPG 16.7 APG 5.1 SPG 1.8
Andre Iguodala PPG 18.2 APG 5.7 3P% .304
Thaddeus Young PPG 13.4 RPG 4.3 APG 2.2
Elton Brand PPG 12.1 RPG 6.5 BPG 1.3
Samuel Dalembert PPG 5.4 RPG 6.2 BPG 1.4
Rajon Rondo vs Lou Williams
Lou Williams is a young point guard getting is first chance at starting and is making the most of it. In their first meeting this season, neither PG stood out but Rondo had slightly better stats with 11 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals to 7 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals for Williams. Rondo needs to be aggressive and go at Williams and he will be able to take advantage of the matchup.
Kevin Garnett vs Elton Brand
This is a matchup of two recovering stars. Brand was out all last season for the Sixers and KG missed the last two games vs Philly with the flu and then the knee injury. KG has a height advantage but Brand has a power advantage. Neither player is quite 100% yet, but both can cause trouble if they get in a groove. KG and Perk will have to work together to guard the interior against a strong Philly front line.
Keys to the Game
As I have said before, defense is going to be the key to every game this season and to winning the championship. The Celtics have talked alot about defense, but have been slipping in playing it in recent games. They need to get back their commitment to team defense.
The Sixers have a good rebounding team and the Celtics have to crash the boards to prevent the Sixers from getting second chance baskets and they also need to crash the offensive boards to keep the Sixers from running the break, which they do well. The Celtics are next to last in offensive rebounding. Much of rebounding is effort and desire and the Celtics must show more of both.
Play 48 Minutes
The Celtics have been coming out flat and making runs only to go flat again. They need to get back to strong starts and playing the entire game instead of digging a hole in the beginning and playing in spurts. The starters need to be focused so that the second unit comes in with a lead and can hold or extend it instead of having to dig out of a hole just trying to get even.
Use the 3 With Caution
Live by the 3 and die by the 3, and the Celtics have been dying by it recently. If the 3's are falling, they are a weapon, but if they aren't, they need to realize that and take the ball inside. There should not be another 2-19 shooting night from beyond the arc. The Celtics have been over relying on the long distance shot and they need to get back to driving to the hoop and either getting the score or drawing the foul. It was their physical play in the hoop that made them tough to defend two years ago and it would be good for them to get back to that instead of relying so much on the long ball.