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Boston Celtics Try To Turn Their Frown Upside Down Vs Sixers

Boston Celtics (46-16, 19-10 away) @ Philadelphia 76ers (33-31, 21-11 home)
Time: 7:00 PM EST, March 11th 2011
Venue: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Officals: Bob Delane, Michael Smith, Haywoode Workman
The Line: The Celtics are 2-0 against the Sixers so far this year and went
3-1 against them last year. Boston has not lost in Philly in nearly 4 yrs.

Game Thread | Chat Room
The Celtics might be solidly atop the Eastern Conference, and 8-2 over their last 10 games, but they're not the hotter team in this matchup, despite being a whopping 14 games up on the Sixers in the total standings.
Over the last 21 games, the Sixers are 15-6, achieving a .700+ win %. For a team that started out 2-13 over the first 15 games, that feat is not only impressive, it is miraculous.
Philadelphia has effectively ensured that they will no fall below a 7th playoff seed, and for all the attention New York has garnered before and after the Carmelo trade, Philadelphia is only one game behind the Knicks, breathing down their next for the 6th playoff spot.
While it seems more likely that Boston will face one of Indiana, Charlotte, or Milwaukee in the first round of the playoffs (that start in just over a month.....YES!!!), if either the Sixers or the Celtics have a bit of a catastrophic loss of swagger over the next few weeks, we could be witnessing a potential playoff series tonight.
That'll be the story that Doug Collins is selling the Sixers tonight, and the way Philadelphia has been playing, I expect them to sop it up. The last time they lost consecutive games was in mid-January (early Feb for the C's), so expect the 76ers to come out tonight both confident and with something to prove, like a 14 yr old younger brother after a growth spurt.
The Celtics on the other hand, are a different matter. The 76ers are going to be full of energy and hustle tonight, and the Celtics are coming off of a game in which their biggest problem was a lack of urgency in the first quarter, which led to three tough quarters of catch-up, which led to a home loss to a team that was 6-25 on the road (the Clippers).
That is a worst case scenario though. Let me give you the best case: Boston comes out sharp and purposeful, enthusiastically contesting shots and with luck, making their own open jump shots achieved through smart ball-movement and a steady veteran hand.

The important thing to remember here is that Philadelphia will think they can win this game, and if the Celtics give them no reason to doubt that belief early, this will be a tough out for the Celtics.

Probable Starting Lineups, Match-up Of The Night, and Keys To The Game are from Honored CB contributor FLCeltsFan, who is just amazing.

Probable Starters

PG: Rajon Rondo..................................................SG Ray Allen

C: Nenad Krstic

SF: Paul Pierce ................................. ............PF Kevin Garnett

Coach: Doc Rivers

Boston Bench Mob
Sasha Pavlovic
Troy Murphy
Jeff Green
Carlos Arroyo
Avery Bradley

Jermaine O'Neal (knee) out
Delonte West (ankle) out
Shaquille O'Neal (Achilles) out
Von Wafer (calf) out
Glen Davis (knee) day to day

Probable Starters

PG: Jrue Holiday ......................................................SF: Jodie Meeks

C: Spencer Hawes

SF: Andre Iguodala .................................................. PF: Elton Brand

Sixers Bench
Thaddeus Young
Andres Nocioni
Lou Williams
Marreese Speights
Tony Battie
Jason Kapono
Craig Brackins
Darius Songaila
Evan Turner


Key Matchups
Paul Pierce vs Andre Iguodala
Paul Pierce will need to work on the defensive end to keep Iguodala from having a big game offensively. In his last game, Iguodala let Kevin Durant go off for 34 points and 16 rebounds. If Pierce plays aggressively, he could be in for a big game.


Kevin Garnett vs Elton Brand
Brand had 13 points and 15 rebounds in his last game against the Thunder. KG had 16 points and 8 rebounds against the Clippers but was just 5-19 from the floor. Hopefully he can bounce back and have a big game in this one. With all the injuries to the bigs, KG needs to step up his game even more during his time on the court.

Honorable Mention
Rajon Rondo vs Jrue Holiday
Rondo has had a couple of very un-Rondo-like sub-par games recently. Holiday is a very good young point guard. On Wednesday he put up 22 points, 8 assists and 3 steals against Russell Westbook. Hopefully Rondo can snap back in this one as the Celtics need him on both ends of the floor if they want to get a win.

Keys to the Game
Defense - The Celtics defense has slipped considerably with all the new players and the injuries. They must get back to making defense a priority and the new players have to get on the same page defensively or the Celtics could be in trouble.

Rebound - The Sixers are a good rebounding team and the Celtics have to put more effort into crashing the boards. The Celtics have to limit the Sixers' rebounds to prevent second chance baskets and tip ins. They also need to give themselves extra possessions, especially if they shoot as poorly as they did on Wednesday.

Play 48 Minutes - The Celtics came out very flat against the Clippers. They spotted them a 23 point lead before finally beginning to play hard but weren't able to overcome the hole that they had dug. They have had slow starts in several games recently and have also given up leads. They have to play 48 minutes and get away from slow starts and 4th quarter let downs.

Bench Play - With 5 players out, the Celtics bench consists of 5 players who never played together before this week. They seem to be struggling to find chemistry. Hopefully Doc will keep at least one starter on the court with the new guys because the unit of 5 newbies together looked completely lost in the game vs the Clippers.

Move the Ball - The Celtics had just 21 assists compared to 28 for the Clippers. They are tough to beat when they move the ball and make the extra pass and find the open man. When the ball sticks and players abandon the team offense, they struggle. They have to trust each other and get back to playing as a team rather than as individuals.

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