The Celtics visit the Wachovia Center looking to pick up their second road win of the season and their 5th straight victory. The Sixers lost their opener to the Magic but have won two games in a row. The Sixers have a good starting unit and may be able to hold their own against the Celtics starters. But, their bench lacks depth and that may be the difference in this game.
Rajon Rondo will be matched against Lou Williams who is another good young point guard. This is Williams' first season starting and he is making the most of his opportunity. He is currently second in the league in assist to turnover ratio and is also averaging just over 20 points per game. Hopefully there won't be the animosity that we saw between Rondo and Chris Paul because Williams works out with Rondo and Josh Smith in the off season.
The Sixers have the firepower to put points on the board as they scored 141 in their last game, an OT win over the Knicks. They will need every bit of that as they face the Celtics whose defense is allowing a mere 81 points per game which is tops in the league. The Sixers’ defense will be also be tested, especially on the perimeter, as Boston has averaged 21.8 three-point attempts per game, fourth-highest in the NBA behind New York, Orlando and Houston.
The Celtics' two wins in Philly last season came by a total of 3 points, but both were without Keviin Garnett. In those two games, Paul Pierce averaged 30 points and Ray Allen hit a 3-pointer in the final seconds for a 1 point victory in the first, while Pierce's clutch shot put Boston ahead for good with 2 minutes left in a 100-98 victory in the second. Since the Celtics play tomorrow night, let's hope that the Celtics take care of business in this one and give the starters the 4th quarter off.
Coach: Doc Rivers
Average Age: 27.8
Average Height: 6-6
Average Weight: 224
Rajon Rondo PPG 6.5 RPG 5.00 APG 11.8 EFF + 21.00
Ray Allen PPG 17.8 RPG 1.8 APG 2.3 EFF + 13.25
Paul Pierce PPG 21.8 RPG 6.5 APG 2.8 EFF +25.25
Kevin Garnett PPG 13.3 RPG 7.0 APG 2.3 EFF +17.00
Kendrick Perkins PPG 9.8 RPG 4.8 BPG 2.2 EFF + 11.5
Tony Allen (ankle) out
Bill Walker (knee) out
Brian Scalabrine (ankle) day to day
Big Baby Davis (thumb) out
Coach: Eddie JordanAverage Age: 25.3
Average Height: 6-7
Average Weight: 220
Lou Williams PPG 20.3 RPG 5.3 APG 5.0 EFF + 26.67
Andre Iguodala PPG 19.7 RPG 8.3 APG 6.7 EFF + 24.33
Thaddeus Young PPG 15.3 RPG 3.7 APG 3.0 EFF + 16.00
Elton Brand PPG 13.7 RPG 6.30 APG 1.3 EFF + 16.00
Samuel Dalembert PPG 8.0 RPG 6.0 APG 0.0 EFF +9.33
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. He is averaging 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists in the first three games. Rondo is coming into this contest with his new 5 year contract in hand. In the past, he has gotten up for games with the premiere point guards like Chris Paul and then had let down games against the other PGs. It's time for Rondo to show he deserves that contract and play consistently against every PG in the league. Williams will make Rondo pay if he underestimates him.
Kevin Garnett vs Elton Brand
This is a matchup that has taken a year to materialize. 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. KG and Perk will have to work together to guard the interior against a strong Philly front line.
Ray Allen vs Andre Iguodala
Iguodala is a handful to try to guard. He has a strength advantage over Ray and Ray is going to have to keep Iguodala busy running off screens and chasing him on defense so that he wears out on offense by the end of the game. This will be a battle of scorers. Ray is the better perimeter scorer, but Iguodala is better getting to the basket.
• Celtics swept the season series 4-0 against Philadelphia in 2008-09
• Ray Allen led the Celtics with 20.7 points per game last season
• Andre Iguodala led the 76ers with 17.5 points per game against the Celtics last season
• It marked the first time since the 1995-96 season that the Celtics swept the season series with the 76ers
• The Celtics are leading the all-time series 234-175 with the Celtics 137-48 at home
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 committed to becoming the best defensive teams ever. So far, they are making good on their promise. They need to continue to commit to playing lock down defense every game including this one.
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 got sloppy against the Hornets and allowed the Hornets to hang around and tighten up a game that otherwise wouldn't have been near as close.
The Celtics have several combustible players on the team in KG, Perk, Sheed and now Rondo. They need to keep their composure as when they lose their cool and are T'd up, it gives the advantage to the other team.