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Celtics and 76ers Square Off in Philadelphia

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Boston Celtics (38-21) at Philadelphia 76ers (22-38)

Friday, March 5, 2010

7:00pm

TV: Comcast SportsNet; Radio: WEEI

Venue: Wachovia Center

The Boston Celtics look to continue their winning ways in the City of Brotherly Love tonight when they battle the Philadelphia 76ers at 7:00pm.

With a fully healthy roster finally in the fold, the Celtics posted one of their most convincing wins of the season on Wednesday night - a 104-80 thrashing of a respectable Charlotte Bobcats team.

While the Celtics might finally be putting it together with the playoffs approaching, the 76ers are reeling. Losers of four straight and seven of their last nine, Eddie Jordan's squad's playoff hopes grow dimmer by the day. Philly now sits eight games back of Miami for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. It was also announced earlier this week that guard Allen Iverson will not return to the team this season due to family issues.

Despite the Sixers' recent struggles, they've managed to play Boston tough in two of the three games they've seen them in. Boston escaped with a three-point win at home on November 25, and then watched as Philly snapped its 11-game win streak in a one-point loss back on November 18. However, in the lone game these two teams have played away from Boston, the Celtics' dismantled the Sixers, 105-74, behind 20 points from Rasheed Wallace, who hit six of his eight three-point field goal attempts in his hometown return.

All the while, though, Philly still maintains a talented roster, with guys like Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, and Louis Williams all capable of posting big numbers in a wide array of statistical categories. Philly's problems seem to stem from its defense, as it allows over 100 points per game, allows opponents to shoot over 46 percent from the field, and, perhaps most importantly, over 40 percent from three-point nation.

Projected Starters:

Celtics: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins

76ers: Jrue Holiday, Louis Williams, Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, Saumel Dalembert

Health Check: The Celtics are healthy.

For the Sixers, forward Elton Brand (achilles) is listed as questionable, while center Francisco Elson (hernia) is out.

Keep It in Mind: The Sixers have allowed over 100 points in five of their last six games.

Who's Hot: For the Celtics, Paul Pierce scored 27 points on 9-13 shooting on Wednesday against the Bobcats.

For the Sixers, Louis Williams is coming off an 11-15, 30-point performance against the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday.

Who's Not: For the Celtics, Kendrick Perkins has not posted double-digit rebounds in his last seven games.

For the Sixers, Thaddeus Young is coming off a nine-point effort against the Hawks in which he hit just four of 11 shots.

Key Matchup: Paul Pierce vs. Andre Iguodala

Honorable Mention: Kendrick Perkins vs. Samuel Dalembert

Skinny: The Celtics would be wise to jump on Philly early in its own building, while possibly exploiting matchups like Rajon Rondo versus Jrue Holiday and Kevin Garnett against Thaddeus Young. Garnett should be able to take advantage of Young in the paint, while Rondo should be able to get by Holiday and create easy buckets for others. Don't be shocked to see Rondo and Garnett play a quality pick-and-roll game tonight, given their defenders.

Kendrick Perkins needs to get back to ripping down the rebounds, as Philly still ranks higher than Boston in terms of total team rebounds per game. If the C's commit themselves to defense early on, and can win the rebounding battle, they should be able to lock up their third straight victory.