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Celtics host division rival Philadelphia 76ers

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The Celtics continue their home stand with a visit from the division rival Philadelphia 76ers for the 2nd of 4 meetings this season.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
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Philadelphia 76ers (9-24) at Boston Celtics (21-14)
Regular Season Game #36, Home Game #16
Friday, January 6, 2017
7:30 PM ET
TV: CSNNE, CSN-PHI, NBA-LP 755(DTV)/755 (Xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, 97.5 The Fanatic
TD Garden
Referees: Derrick Stafford, Derek Richardson, Ben Taylor


The Celtics continue their home stand with a visit from the division rival Philadelphia 76ers for the 2nd 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. They also met in the beginning of December on the Sixers home court and the Celtics escaped with a 107-106 win. The Celtics have won their last 9 games against the Sixers. They will meet in Boston on 2/15 and in Philadelphia on 3/19.

Both teams should be rested coming into this game. This is just the second game that they are playing over a 7 day stretch with their last game on Tuesday. The Sixers have also been off since Tuesday when they pulled out a thrilling last second win over the Timberwolves.

Both teams have won their last 2 games and are looking for their third straight win. The Celtics are 8-2 over their last 10 games while the Sixers are 4-6 over their last 10. The Celtics are looking to establish themselves on their home court with a 9-6 record and a schedule in January that is heavy on the home games. The Celtics are playing in the first of back to back games with the Pelicans coming to town on Saturday.

James Young (ankle) and Tyler Zeller (illness) were both unable to practice and they are both listed as game time decisions for the Celtics. Jordan Mickey is the latest player to be slowed by an illness and he did not practice. He is listed as questionable.

Joel Embiid missed practice on Thursday with a stomach bug but he traveled with the team. He is listed as a game time decision but expectations are that he will play. Gerald Henderson (hip) was able to practice on Thursday and is listed as probable. Jerryd Bayless (wrist)and Ben Simmons (foot) are out for this game. Robert Covington left practice early on Thursday morning with a lower back contusion but is expected to play against the Celtics. Richaun Holmes (concussion) is listed as probable.




Probable Starters

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

C: Amir Johnson

SF: Jae Crowder .............. PF: Al Horford

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

Injuries

Tyler Zeller (illness) game time decision
James Young (ankle) game time decision
Jordan Mickey (illness) questionable
Head Coach
Brad Stevens



Probable Starters

PG: TJ McConnell ................ SG: Nik Stauskas

C: Joel Embiid

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

Sixers Reserves
Jahlil Okafor
Dario Saric
Nerlens Noel
Timothe Luwawu Cabarret

Injuries
Richaun Holmes (concussion) probable
Joel Embiid (illness) probable
Ben Simmons (foot) out
Robert Covington (back) probable
Sergio Rodriguez (ankle) probable
Gerald Henderson (hip) probable
Jerryd Bayless (wrist) out

Coach
Brett Brown

Key Matchups
vs
Amir Johnson vs Joel Embiid
Embiid sat out the first meeting between these two teams for rest and is questionable for this game after sitting out Thursday's practice. But, if he is able to play, the Celtics will have to deal with him because he has been playing very well. He is averaging 19.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks. He is the reigning December Rookie of the Month and will be a tough matchup. The Celtics will need to slow him down and keep him away from the basket.

vs
Al Horford vs Ersan Ilyasova
Ilyasova is averaging 14.0 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.5 assists. He came up big in their first meeting with 19 points and so the Celtics will need to keep him from having another big game.

Honorable Mention

Marcus Smart vs Dario Saric
This will be a battle of sixth men. In the first meeting between these two teams Saric had 21 points and 12 rebounds in a break out game for him. He is averaging 9.4 points, 5.9 rebunds and 1.7 assists. The Celtics need to keep him from having another big game against them.

Keys to the Game
Defense - The Celtic struggled with their defense early on and seemed to be getting their defensive swagger back recently, especially in their last game against the Jazz. They need to keep their priority on playing tough team defense. Defense wins games.

Be Aggressive
- The Celtics have to be the more aggressive team and go after all the loose balls, and aggressively crash the boards and go after rebounds. As said above, they must 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 other times, their assist levels have dropped and they play more one on one and take quick shots. Hero ball rarely wins games.

Rebound - Rebounding has been a weakness for this team this season so far. They must put out the extra effort to crash the boards and win the rebounding battle. The Sixers average 12.8 2nd chance points per game and the Celtics need to grab rebounds to keep them from scoring on put backs and second chance baskets.

X-Factors
Focus - The Celtics lost one game to the Sixers in the preseason and they just squeaked by them by one point in their first meeting. The Celtics can't come into the game expecting a win because of the Sixers record. They have to come in focused and play their game and not expect an easy game because the Sixers are below .500.

Crowd Factor - How will the fans react to Jae Crowder after the twitter storm over their warm reception for Gordon Hayward. Will the crowd cheer for Noel or Okafor, both of whom have been mentioned as targets for the Celtics. More importantly, will they boo Crowder who has played all out for the Celtics since he arrived in Boston? I sure hope not. The Celtics need the home fans to be behind them all the way.

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.