The Boston Celtics host the struggling Philadelphia 76ers tonight at 7:30pm at the TD Garden, as they look for their 12th consecutive win.
Boston's current win streak reached 11 games this past Monday night when the C's fended off an offensively loaded Memphis Grizzlies squad that didn't fade until Ray Allen buried a back breaking three-pointer as the shot clock expired with 17.5 seconds left. The win over Memphis capped off a 3-0 sweep of the Celtics' latest road swing and they advanced their record away from Boston to a near perfect 12-1.
The 76ers have seen their season spiral out of control, as they recently suffered through a 12-game losing streak that extended all the way from November 20 through December 11. Overall, the Sixers stand at 6-19 and have won just one of their past 14 games.
Philadelphia made noise by signing ex-Sixer and hometown hero Allen Iverson to a one-year, non-guaranteed contract earlier this month, hoping his play would help the team on the court and his prominence would put people in the seats. While the latter might be true, the Sixers lost their first three games with Iverson back in the starting lineup and are just 1-4 overall in the five games he has played.
Iverson will not play in tonight's contest, as the former league MVP is suffering from left knee arthritis as well as a right shoulder contusion. Iverson averaged 15.6 points and 4.2 assists in his first five games for Philly.
The Celtics have already defeated the 76ers twice this season, once on the road and once at home. Down in Philly back on November 3, the Celtics had their way with the Sixers, winning 105-74, but winning in Boston wasn't so easy, as the Celtics squeaked by with a 113-110 victory over Philadelphia back on November 25. Overall, the Celtics are 5-0 against Atlantic Division opponents this season.
Celtics: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins
76ers: Jrue Holiday, Willie Green, Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, Samuel Dalembert
Health Check: For the Celtics, forward Glen Davis (thumb) and guard/forward Marquis Daniels (thumb) are out.
For the 76ers, guards Louis Williams (jaw) and Allen Iverson (knee) and forward Stromile Swift (hamstring) are out. Forward Andre Iguodala is listed as day-to-day (ribs).
Keep It In Mind: Philadelphia is just 2-10 on the road this season.
Who's Hot: For the Celtics, six players scored in double figures against the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday, including all five starters.
For the Sixers, Andre Iguodala scored 26 points on 8-15 shooting against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday.
Who's Not: For the Celtics, Shelden Williams did not attempt a shot in 12 minutes against Memphis on Monday.
For the Sixers, Samuel Dalembert was held scoreless against Cleveland (0-4 shooting) in just under 14 minutes of action.
Key Matchup: Paul Pierce vs. Andre Iguodala
Honorable Mention: Rajon Rondo vs. Jrue Holiday
Skinny: The Sixers have struggled of late, but they're still a talented team capable of giving the elite teams a migraine for 48 minutes. Iguodala and Thaddeus Young are capable of controlling a game and Philly is still putting up 97.2 points per game. Young, fast-paced, athletic teams have given the Celtics difficulty this season and Philly more than fits that description. However, with next to no attention to defensive detail on the part of the Sixers (they allow 101.6 points per game), the Celtics should not have much difficulty scoring in this one.
If the Celtics can slow the Sixers in the early going and keep the game at the pace they prefer to play, they should be in good shape to capture their 12th straight win.