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Celtics host 76ers big East battle (I guess)

Pinch hitting for FLCeltsFan, sorry I'm not as cool.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Just cutting and pasting FLCeltsFan's game preview from the forums.

Philadelphia 76ers (15-51) at Boston Celtics (29-36)
Regular Season Game #66, Home Game #34
Monday, March 16, 2015
7:30 PM ET
TV: CSNNE, CSN-PHI, NBA-LP 754(DTV)/755 (Xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, 97.5 The Fanatic
TD Garden

Probable Starters

PG Marcus Smart....... SG: Avery Bradley

Center: Tyler Zeller

SF: Evan Turner ....... PF: Brandon Bass

Celtics Reserves
Gerald Wallace
Jae Crowder
James Young
Phil Pressey
Shavlik Randolph
Jonas Jerebko
Gigi Datome
Kelly Olynyk

Jared Sullinger (foot) out
Isaiah Thomas (back,elbow) day to day

Head Coach
Brad Stevens

Probable Starters

PG: Isaiah Canaan.................. SG: Jason Richardson

Center: Nerlens Noel

SF: Luc Mbah a Moute ........... PF: JaKarr Sampson

Sixers Reserves
Hollis Thompson
Jerami Grant
Henry Sims
Malcolm Thomas
Thomas Robinson
Robert Covingon
Ish Smith
Glenn Robinson

Joel Embiid (foot) out
Tony Wroten (knee) out
Furkan Aldemir (rib) questionable

Game Notes
The Celtics look for their first 5 game win streak in 2 years as they host the Philadelphia 76ers. This is the 4th and final game between these two division rivals. The Celtics won the first three games and are looking to sweep the series for the first time since the 2009-10 season.

The Celtics are 7-3 in their last 10 games while the Sixers are 3-7 in their last 10. The Celtics are 17-16 at home while the Sixers are 5-27 on the road and have lost their last 13 games away from home. The Celtics have lost 6 of their last 7 games.

The Celtics are tied with Miami and 1/2 game behind Charlotte for the 8th playoff spot. They are also just 1 game behind the Pacers, the team they just beat, for the 7th spot. Indiana is hosting Toronto, Miami is hosting Cleveland and Charlotte is on the road at Utah.

The Sixers are missing Joel Embiid and their leading scorer, Tony Wroten, who is averaging 16.9 ppg. Furkan Aldemir is questionable. The Celtics are hoping to get Isaiah Thomas back for this game after missing the past 3 games with a back injury. Jared Sullinger remains out with the foot injury. It would be good to get Isaiah back, but the Celtics should be able to beat the Sixers regardless.

The Celtics have won 4 games in a row including big wins over surging Memphis and Indiana. But, those big wins won't mean a thing if they can't beat the Sixers who have the 3rd worst record in the league and are just 1.5 games back of New York for the worst record. The Celtics can't underestimate them and have to bring the same effort that they did against Memphis and Indiana.

Key Matchups
Avery Bradley vs Jason Richardson
Richardson is averaging 10.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 2.3 assists and is capable of having a big game and so Bradley needs to keep him in check.

Noel is becoming a very good defender and will make it difficult for the Celtics around the hoop. Noel is averaging 9.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 1.89 blocks. Zeller did a good job of limiting Hibbert's game and hopefully he can do the same to Noel.

Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense is key to winning. Defense wins games pure and simple. The Celtics have picked up the defensive intensity in their last 7 games, which explains 6 wins out of 7. They have allowed just 92 points over their last 7 games, which is 10.8 fewer points than in their first 58 games. They have to continue to play tough team defense in this game.

Rebound - The Celtics have to crash the boards in order to give themselves extra possessions as well as to prevent the Sixers from getting second chance points and fast breaks. Much of rebounding is effort and desire and when the Celtics put out the effort on the boards, it often leads to more effort all the way around.

Pace and Space - The Celtics must set the pace and run on every possession from start to finish. They need to get off to a fast start and then continue to run and keep the pace up throughout the game. In the last game against these Sixers, The Celtics led by as many as 26 in the second quarter but the Celtics let up and stopped running and the Sixers pulled to within 3 in the 4th quarter before the Celtics woke up again and pulled away. They have to run and push the pace for the entire game.

Be Aggressive - The Celtics need to be the more aggressive team. They must be the first to loose balls and rebounds, and they have to be aggressive in driving to the basket and not always settling for jumpers. They must be aggressive on defense and set the tone for the game.

Go to the Hoop - The Celtics need to take the ball to the hoop and not settle for outside shots, especially if those shots aren't falling. I know that they love to shoot the 3 but sometimes they don't fall and going inside is much smarter.

Effort and Momentum
The only reason the Celtics should ever lose to this team is if they don't bring their best effort. If the Celtics stay focused and being the same effort that they did against the Pacers, then this should be a blow out. They have the momentum and they have the goal of making the playoffs and so they need to continue to play hard and play team ball.

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