The Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers face each other for the second time in the preseason. The Celtics won the first matchup 114-106 on Sunday in Boston and now they face off again in Philadelphia. The Celtics played their starters between 20 and 26 minutes in that game, but the 76ers rested Joel Embiid, Furkan Korkmaz, James Harden and De’Anthony Melton for the contest.
This is the second game for the Celtics, having played back to back games on Sunday and Monday. This is also the 3rd game in 4 nights for the Celtics. They rested their top 6 players on Monday so it’s tough to figure out if they will all play in this game or if Joe Mazzulla will lean heavily on the reserves once again. The 76ers haven’t played since they faced the Celtics on Sunday.
The Celtics reserves and end of the bench players did a good job of hanging with the Knicks on Monday, especially since the Knicks were playing their starters regular minutes. It is hard to predict who will play and who will start for either team since the coaches are both trying different lineups and rotations and resting starters so as to try to avoid injury in the preseason.
Jay Scrubb is out for the Celtics after tearing his ACL in practice. Furkan Korkmaz is listed as questionable with a leg injury. Montrezl Harrell is out with a knee injury. James Harden is out for personal reasons as he continues to hope for a trade from the 76ers. Embiid will once again sit out, in spite of participating in Tuesday’s practice. I’m guessing on the starting lineups once again but really don’t know what direction these coaches are going to go in this game.
Probable Celtics Starters
PG: Jrue Holiday
SG: Derrick White
SF: Jaylen Brown
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Kristaps Porzingis
JD Davison (2 Way)
Neemias Queta (2 Way)
Jay Scrubb (ACL) out
Probable 76ers Starters
PG: Patrick Beverley
SG: Tyrese Maxey
SF: Tobias Harris
PF: PJ Tucker
C: Joel Embiid
Kelly Oubre, Jr
Ricky Council IV (2 Way)
Azuolas Tubelis (2 Way)
Terquavion Smith (2 Way)
Danuel House, Jr
David Duke, Jr
Montrezl Harrell (Knee) out
James Harden (personal) out
Furkan Korkmaz (leg) out
Joel Embiid (rest) out
Maxey played very well in Sunday’s game between these two teams. He finished with 24 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists. If Mazzulla decides to go with double bigs in this one, Jaylen Brown will be matched with him at shooting guard. Either way, the Celtics need to slow Maxey down.
Jrue Holiday vs Patrick Beverley
With Embiid once again sitting this game out we won’t get to see his matchup with Porzingis in this game. Patrick Beverley started at the point on Sunday and may or may not start this game. Jrue Holiday came off the bench on Sunday but I’m guessing that he will start this game. Beverley had 12 points, 1 rebound and 1 assist on Sunday in the start while Holiday had 6 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 steals off the bench. This could be a fun matchup between two defensive minded point guards.
Payton Pritchard vs Jaden Springer
Springer had 14 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal off the bench for Philadelphia on Sunday and he has earned high praise from head coach Nick Nurse. Payton Pritchard has played very well in both of the Celtics games so far. Hopefully he gets minutes and puts up a 3rd big game for the Celtics.
Keys to the Game
Defense - Whether it is the first game of preseason, or the final game of the NBA Finals, defense is always the key to winning. Both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have declared that they want to make the All Defensive team. Jrue Holiday brings a defensive mindset to the game. Joe Mazzulla has said that he will emphasize defense more often in practices this season and has said that all of the Celtics are buying into playing defense. Let’s hope the Celtics follow through with this and reclaim their defensive identity this season.
Rebound - The Celtics can’t score if they don’t have the ball, and the best way to get the ball is the grab rebounds. They have lost some of their rebounding with Timelord playing in Portland but at 7’3”, Kristaps Porzingis should be able to grab rebounds. So far they have outrebounded Philly by 1 and New York by 11. The Celtics need to rebound as a team with every Celtic battling on the boards. It will take a team effort to beat the 76ers on the boards.
Reserve Play - With the starters likely to be playing light minutes if they play, the Celtics will need to lean heavily on their reserves once again. How will the new players like Banton, Brissett, Walsh, Mykhailiuk and Gabriel do as they get more minutes for the Celtics? How will returning players like Luke Kornet, Sam Hauser, and Payton Pritchard do as they seek to be leaders off the bench as Celtics veterans.
Chemistry - Chemistry and continuity are both important to teams trying to win a championship. The Celtics have several new players to work into the team and to build chemistry with. So far, they seem to be doing a good job in that area. They have the continuity of the same head coach and key players returning. The 76ers have a new coach and a new system to get acclimated to. They have the uncertainty of James Harden’s situation to overcome, but they also have many of the same key players returning.
Preseason - It’s the preseason and most of the time coaches don’t care if they win or lose but are looking for improvement in players, which rotations work, which players on the cusp will stick with the team and keeping their key players healthy. In the end, hopefully both teams stay healthy and we see some good things from starters and reserves alike.