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Celtics visit Sixers looking for 2nd straight win

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The Celtics visit division rival Philadelphia 76ers for the first of 4 meetings this season.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports


at
Boston Celtics (11-8) at Philadelphia 76ers (4-15)
Regular Season Game #20, Road Game #11
Saturday, December 3, 2016
7:30 PM ET
TV: CSNNE, CSN-PHI, NBA-LP 755(DTV)/751 (Xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, 97.5 The Fanatic
Wells Fargo Center

Referees: Scott Foster, Kevin Cutler, Ron Garretson


The Celtics travel to Philadelphia to take on the 76ers in the first of 4 meetings this season. The Celtics and Sixers met once in the first game of the preseason with the Sixers coming out on top. The Celtics won the series 4-0 last season.

Both teams are playing in the second of back to back games. The Celtics played at home against the Kings coming out with a 5 point win. The Sixers played at home against the Magic losing 105-88. That was the Sixers 5th straight loss. The Sixers have an advantage playing both games at home while the Celtics had to travel after their game.

The Sixers game against the Kings on Wednesday was postponed due to unsafe conditions on the court. There was condensation on the court and even DeMarcus Cousins joined in and tried to mop the floor but to no avail. Since they played on it Friday night, hopefully it will be in good shape for this game.

The Celtics have no injuries to report. Jerryd Bayless is listed as a game time decision and may come back from a wrist injury. Nerlens Noel is working his way back from a knee injury He was assigned to Philly's D-League affiliate to get some work in and then recalled. He is questionable for this game. Ben Simmons is out with a foot injury.
Robert Covington left Friday's game in the 4th quarter with a knee sprain and is a game time decision. Hollis Thompson or Dario Saric will possibly start if Covington can't play. The Sixers will more than likely continue to sit Embiid on the second night of back to backs and with Noel probably out, Okafor will likely get the start.



Probable Starters

PG Isaiah Thomas....... SG: Avery Bradley

C: Al Horford

SF: Jae Crowder .............. PF: Amir Johnson

Celtics Reserves
Jaylen Brown
Gerald Green
Terry Rozier
James Young
Jonas Jerebko
Tyler Zeller
Marcus Smart
Kelly Olynyk

Injuries

None

D-League

Demetrius Jackson
Jordan Mickey

Head Coach
Brad Stevens


Probable Starters

PG: Sergio Rodriguez................. SG: Gerald Henderson

C: Jahlil Okafor

SF: Robert Covington .............. PF: Ersan Ilyasova

Sixers Reserves
Jahlil Okafor
CJ McConnell
Dario Saric
Nik Stauskas
Timothe Luwawu Cabarret
Richaun Holmes
Hollis Thompson

Injuries

Jerryd Bayless (wrist) game time decision
Nerlens Noel (knee) questionable
Ben Simmons (foot) out
Robert Covinton (knee) game time decision
Joel Embiid (rest) out

Coach
Brett Brown

Key Matchups
vs
Al Horford vs Jahlil Okafor
The Sixers will likely sit Embiid on the second night of back to back games. With Noel still expected to be out, Jahlil Okafor will likely get the start at center. He is averaging 10.7 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. Okafor is coming off his one of his best games so far with 16-points and 13 rebounds. While Okafor is good, he is nowhere near Embiid's level. Horford should be able to get the best of this matchup.

vs
Isaiah Thomas vs Sergio Rodriguez
Rodriguez is averaging 7.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and 6.8 assists. Isaiah has to keep Rodriguez from getting into their offense while at the same time, make Rodgriguez work on the defensive end of the court.

Keys to the Game
Defense - The Celtic have struggled with their defense recently and must get back to making defense their priority. Defense wins games and the Celtics must get back to playing tough defense as a team.

Be Aggressive
- The Celtics have to be the more aggressive team and go after all the loose balls, and aggressively go after rebounds, and be aggressive on defense. They also have to be aggressive in taking the ball into the paint. The more aggressive team will usually get the benefit of the whistles.

Move the Ball - The Celtics have shown beautiful ball movement at times and they have been able to make the extra pass and find the open man to get the best shot. But at times, their assist levels have dropped and they play more one on one and take quick shots, especially when the second unit comes in. Hero ball rarely wins games. They also seem to have lost their confidence and they need to get that back and get back to playing Celtics basketball.

Focus - The Celtics need to make their shots. It is a mystery how a team can shoot 50+% in one game and then be unable to hit a shot in the next game. That has to be a lack of focus and confidence. They need to keep their focus and not play down to the Sixers.

Bench Play - The Celtics starters built a big lead over the Kings on Friday night only to give up the entire lead when the reserves came in. The ball movement that was so good with the starters stopped with the reserves. The Celtics reserves need to keep up the ball movement when they come in and they need to play with more intensity.

X-Factors
Fatigue - Both teams are playing in the second of back to back games. So fatigue could come into play at the end of this game, especially for the Celtics who are playing on the road. The Celtics depth could come into play in this one.

Officiating - Officiating will always be an x-factor. Some crews call every little bit of contact that takes the flow out of the game. Some crews let them play. Some refs have an agenda against a team, a coach or a player. All of these things can alter the way a game is played and the ability of a team to play well.