The 76ers are taking on the Boston Celtics for the 3rd time this season on Tuesday night at Wells Fargo. Boston is 2-0 this season beating Philly on Christmas day and opening night. But this isn’t going to be the same match up as the last times. Both rosters are different, some better and some not. For Boston, Kyrie is going to be out with a knee injury, Gordon Hayward is coming back to his caliber, and Marcus Morris said he isn’t having fun. The 76ers now have Their big 4 with one game under their belt, a bench with a few veterans, and a new confidence about them.
Eyeing up the race in the Eastern Conference, the 76ers sit at 4th place and are 36-20 on the year. They also are 5.5 games back for the Bucks and are in striking distance of the third seeded Pacers. The Celtics are in 5th place in the east are are 1 game back of the 76ers and sit at 35-21. This game can cause a shift in the rankings or allow the Sixers to pull away.
Joel Embiid leads the team in scoring with 27.4 points per game and leading in the rebounding department at 13.5 per game. Simmons is averaging a team high of 8.0 assists per game. The team is 3rd in the league for scoring averaging 115.9 per game, and in assists per game at 27.4. This team is sharing the ball great and scoring at a tremendous pace. The Defense could definitely improve, giving up 112.2 points per game. I believe all these numbers are going to improve with the addition of Harris on both ends of the floor.
Kyrie is scoring 23.6 per game and is averaging 6.9 helpers as well which are both team leaders. They are scoring only a few points a game fewer than the 76ers, (112.9) but are 12th in the league in scoring. They are also similar in assists per game with 26.4. Defensively they allow 106.5 PPG which makes them a top 5 defense in the game. Brad Stevens does a remarkable job coaching this team on off-ball defense and consistently taking away your strengths.
This is a very close matchup of teams going head to head. Kyrie playing or not playing is going to be a difference maker in the outcome. Boston’s coming off a horrendous blown lead to the Clippers and think its going to be a long night for Boston on Tuesday. Embiid is going to dominate his matchup like he has all year long. If Kyrie is out, then Simmons will win the point guard battle with either Rozier or Smart battling him.
Additionally Marcus Morris will battle with Harris and I have to give the nod to Harris here on both ends of the floor. Jimmy Butler could be poised for a big night with matching up on younger players like Tatum or brown. JJ Redick is loving the addition of Harris, which allows him to not be the only 3 point threat and takes away some of the heat.
Keys to the Game
Transitioning to the keys, the Celtics biggest advantage over the 76ers the previous matchups in having more depth and a slightly better starting 5. The tables have turned. Simmons, Butler, Redick, Harris, and Embiid are a top 3 starting 5 in the entire league. The Celtics are going to have a hard time matching up with the firepower on offense. If they want to double Joel on the block, then Harris, Redick, and Butler can torch them. If they want to sag off of Simmons and make him shoot, then he will be able to drive and kick with a full head of steam.
The 76ers will win this game 125-111 on Tuesday. The BIG 4 for Philly will combine to most of the scoring, and I think that the bench will be great. No Kyrie is huge for this game, and the 76ers NEED to win this game. Joel Embiid will be the leading score with Jimmy Butler as a close second.
Here they come… Trust the process.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports