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Boston Celtics (54-24) at Philadelphia 76ers (52-26) Game #79 4/4/23

The Celtics visit the Philadelphia 76ers looking for the season sweep.

Boston Celtics v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Celtics visit the Philadelphia 76ers for the 4th and final meetings between the two teams this season. They met in Boston on the first night of the season, October 18, when the Celtics won 126-117. They met a second time in Boston on February 8 and the Celtics won 106-99. They met in Philadelphia on February 25 when the Celtics won 110-107. The Celtics are 267-195 all time overall and they are 90-127 all time in Philly. They tied the series 2-2 last season with each team winning 1 at home and 1 on the road.

The Celtics remain 2nd in the East, 2 games behind first place Milwaukee. The Celtics are 3 games ahead of 3rd place Philadelphia and can lock in the 2nd seed with a win in this game. The Celtics are 25-15 on the road and 7-3 in their last 10 games. They are 31-17 against Eastern Conference opponents and 9-4 against Atlantic Division teams. They have won their last 2 games.

The 76ers are 3rd in the East, 3 games behind 2nd place Boston. They are 5 games behind first place Milwaukee. They are 2.5 games ahead of 4th place Cleveland. The 76ers are 28-11 at home and 5-5 in their last 10 games. They are 31-17 against Eastern Conference opponents and they are 8-6 against Atlantic Division teams. They are coming off a loss to the Bucks.

This is the final road game for the Celtics in the regular season. They will play the final 3 games at home with 2 against Toronto and the final game against Atlanta. This is the first of back to back games and they will return home to face Toronto on Wednesday. The 76ers played at Milwaukee on Sunday and this is the first of 2 home games with Miami coming to Philly on Thursday. They will finish the season with two games on the road at Atlanta and at Brooklyn.

Robert Williams III is listed as out for this game for rest as the Celtics have been careful to keep him out of either the first or the second of back to back games. Jaylen Brown is listed as questionable for this game with back tightness. His status will be a game time decision. Danilo Gallinari remains out as he rehabs his torn ACL. The 76ers have no one on the injury list at this time.

Probable Celtics Starters

Celtics Reserves
Malcolm Brogdon
Grant Williams
Sam Hauser
Payton Pritchard
Luke Kornet
Blake Griffin
Mike Muscala

2 Way Players
JD Davison
Mfiondu Kabengele

Danilo Gallinari (ACL) out
Robert Williams III (rest) out
Jaylen Brown (back) questionable

Head Coach
Joe Mazzulla

Probable 76ers Starters

Sixers Reserves
Dewayne Dedmon
Montrezl Harrell
Danuel House, Jr
Furkan Korkmaz
Jalen McDaniels
De’Anthony Melton
Shake Milton
Georges Niang
Paul Reed
Jaden Springer

2 Way Players
Mac McClung
Louis King


Head Coach
Doc Rivers

Key Matchups

Al Horford vs Joel Embiid
This is the key matchup for this game. Embiid is averaging 33.0 points, 10.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.7 blocks per game. He is shooting 54.4% from the field and 33.7% from beyond the arc. Against the Celtics this season, he averaged 31.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 3.7 assists. The Celtics need to contain Embiid as much as possible. He scores both inside and on the perimeter and so the Celtics need to stay with him at all times.

Marcus Smart vs James Harden
Harden is averaging 21.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 10.9 assists and 1.3 steals per game. He is shooting 44.2% from the field and 38.5% from beyond the arc. Against the Celtics this season he averaged 27.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 8.7 assists and 1.3 steals per game. He shot 50% from the field and 41.7% from beyond the arc in the 3 games against the Celtics this season. It goes without saying that the Celtics need to stay with him in this game.

Honorable Mention
Derrick White vs Tyrese Maxey
Maxey came off the bench in the last two games against the Celtics but he is back in the starting lineup and playing very well. He is averaging 20.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game. He is shooting 48.1% from the field and 42.7% from beyond the arc. In the first 3 games against Boston this season, he averaged 11.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal. He shot 37.5% from the field and 20% from beyond the arc.

Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense will always be key to winning every game. The Celtics are 4th in the league with a 110.7 defensive rating while the Sixers are 8th with a defensive rating of 112.6. The Sixers are 14th in the league with 115.1 points per game. The Celtics have to come into this game with the mindset that they need to play tough defense. The Celtics have shown signs of playing lock down defense in some games, but they haven’t been consistent and against the Wizards, they seemed to forget how to play defense all together. They have to get back to making defense their priority for every possession of every game because defense becomes even more important in the playoffs.

Rebound - Rebounding is second to defense as a key to winning. The Celtics are 7th with 45.2 rebounds per game while the Sixers are 26th with 40.8 rebounds per game. It takes effort to get rebounds and the Celtics must go all out in their effort to beat the Sixers on the boards. The Celtics need to keep the Sixers from getting second chance points around the basket and they need to give themselves extra possessions by rebounding on the offensive end. If the Celtics want to win this one, it is crucial that they go all out to crash the boards.

Take Care of the Ball - The 76ers are 9th in the league with 17.7 points off turnovers per game. The Celtics are 6th in the league, committing only 13.3 turnovers per game but at times they have periods when they commit turnover after turnover. They need to focus on making good passes and on not dribbling into a crowd. It’s hard to win a game when you give the opponent 20+ extra possessions by turning the ball over. If they get sloppy, the 76ers will certainly make them pay.

Be Aggressive - The Celtics must be the team that plays harder and that wants this win more. They have to be aggressive in diving for loose balls, in going to the basket, in getting stops on the defensive end, in closing out the passing lanes, and in going after rebounds. The Celtics must be the more aggressive team from start to finish. If they start out slowly, they may not be able to catch up in this one. They also can’t allow the Sixers to come back if they get out to a lead because the Sixers are good at finishing games. The Celtics need to play with the energy and aggressiveness from the opening tip to the final buzzer.

Stay Focused - The Celtics need to stay focused on playing the game the right way and not on complaining about the refs’ calls that they disagree with. The Celtics have to stay focused on taking and making good shots. They have to be focused on making crisp passes and not get sloppy. They have to They have to keep their focus on playing hard and on playing the right way.

Coaching - Former Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who is in his third year as the Sixers coach, is one of the top 15 coaches in NBA history. Joe Mazzulla is in his first season as a head coach, having been given the job just a couple weeks before the season. The Celtics came out on top in the first 3 games but Doc is going to want to beat them in this game really badly to avoid a sweep. He is going to throw everything he has at the Celtics and it will be up to Mazzulla to counter him.

Rivalry - The Celtics and 76ers are definitely a rivalry, in spite of what Embiid says. The Sixers, having lost the last 3 games between them will want play extra hard in this game to try to win this game going into the playoffs. I’m sure they remember the confetti game and the fact that the Celtics have eliminated them the last 5 times they have met in the playoffs. I have no doubt that the 76ers will play their hardest against the Celtics and the Celtics have to match that effort and play even harder themselves.

Officiating - Officiating is always an x-factor. Every crew calls the game differently. Some call it tight and call every bit of contact while others allow more physical play. Some favor the home team while others call both sides evenly. The Celtics have to adjust to the way the refs are calling the game and not allow the no calls and bad calls to affect their focus on playing the game. They especially need to keep their poise and not complain to the refs on every call.

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