This is the second of 4 meetings between these two teams this season. The Celtics played the Sixers in the third game of the season and got their first win after losing the first two games. These two teams also met twice in the preseason with the Celtics coming out on top in both games. They will play again in Boston on January 18 and in London on February 11.
This is the second of back to back games for the Sixers. It is only their second back to back set and they are 0-1 on the second night. The Celtics have had off since Monday and have had a rare rest and practice at home. The Celtics are coming off a loss to the Pistons while the Sixers are coming off a win over the Wizards.
Joel Embiid is expected to miss this game as he played on Wednesday against the Wizards and will not play in back to back games as of yet. Ben Simmons was questionable for Wednesday but played in that game and is expected to play in this one as well. Jahlil Okafor has not been playing for the Sixers as they desperately try to trade him for a second round pick or a sandwich and a bag of chips. Justin Anderson (leg) and Markelle Fultz (shoulder) are both out. TJ McConnell left Wednesday's game with a bruised shoulder and Is not expected to play.
The Celtics should be in good shape with just Hayward out. Guerschon Yabusele was assigned to the Red Claws on Tuesday and scored 27 points in their game on Wednesday but was recalled for this game. I'm guessing that Brad will stick with Morris in the starting lineup. I'm also guessing that Amir Johnson will take Embiid's place in the starting lineup for the Sixers.
Probable Celtics Starters
Gordon Hayward (ankle) out
Two Way Players
Probable Sixers Starters
Timothe Luwawu Cabarrot
Joel Embiid (rest) out
Justin Anderson (leg) out
Jahlil Okafor (Anyone want him for a 2nd round pick?) out
Markelle Fultz (shoulder) out
TJ McConnell (shoulder) day to day
Two Way Players
James Michael McAdoo
Kyrie Irving vs Ben Simmons
The 6'10"Simmons will have a distinct height advantage on Irving. Simmons is averaging 18.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, 7.4 assists, and 0.8 blocks. He is shooting 51.1% from the field and has not shot a 3 pointer this season. He is coming off a 31 point game against the Wizards where he shot 15 of 29 from the free throw line as the Wizards employed a hack-a-Ben strategy on 11 successive trips down the court. I would imagine that Jaylen Brown will see most of the time covering Simmons on defense.
Jaylen Brown vs JJ Redick
Jaylen (or Kyrie, if Jaylen covers Simmons) needs to stay with Redick as he can put up a lot of points quickly and has had big games against the Celtics in the past. Redick is averaging 16.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 3.5 assists. He is shooting 44.9% from the field and 41.3% from beyond the arc.
Jayson Tatum vs Robert Covington
Covington is averaging 15.9 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.7 steals per game. He is shooting 48% from the field and 46.2% from beyond the arc. Tatum needs to keep him from getting open and limit his easy baskets and rebounds.
Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense wins games and the Celtics have been winning with their defense. Over the past few games they have been letting their defense slip somewhat for whatever reason. They allowed 118 points in the loss to the Pistons and if they do that every game, they will lose way more than they will win. Defense wins games and the Celtics need every player to make defense a priority.
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. The Celtics were not the team that played the hardest in their last game and they need to get back to being the hardest working and toughest team on the court.
Move the Ball - The Celtics play best when they move the ball and find the open man. When they dribble too much and when each player tries to do too much, the offense stalls and it throws off every other area of their game. The Celtics need to also be careful with their passes as the Sixers are 7th with 8.5 steals per game. If the Celtics get careless, the Sixers will make them pay.
Rebound - The Celtics need to crash the boards as they can't score if they don't have the ball. The Sixers are first in the league with 49.1 rebounds per game while the Celtics are 6th with 45.9 rebounds per game. The Sixers are 4th with 14.3 second chance points and 7th with 47.2 points in the paint. The Celtics have to work very hard to beat the Sixers to rebounds to avoid second chance points by the Sixers.
Home Game - The Celtics are playing in the 2nd game of a 5 game home stand. They also had two days off between games to get in a practice and a little rest after playing 3 games in 4 nights in 3 different cities. The Celtics need to get an extra boost from the home crowd and they need to protect home court after losing their last game at home.
Rest vs Fatigue - The Celtics have had 2 days rest with a rare practice day while the Sixers are playing in back to back games. After looking like they were going to cruise to a win over the Wizards, the Sixers had to play hard right until the end to hold off the Wizards. The game also lasted a ridiculously long time because they shot a combined 101 free throws with the Sixers shooting 61 of them. Will the Celtics be sharp because of the rest or rusty? Will the Sixers be fatigued or ready to play?