I suppose if you combine Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, add in Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo you can still find a "big three" in there somehwere, but this Celtics team clearly is not what they were when they brought home a championship a couple seasons ago. How far have they fallen? Far enough to lose to the lowly NJ Nets, but probably not far enough for the Sixers to steal one from them tonight. Preview, game thread etc. after the jump.
Truly interesting matchups in this one, so let's get right to it:
- 18 minutes of Jrue vs. Rondo - Great matchup, really looking forward to the limit burn Jrue will get guarding Rondo. Jrue needs to be quick under the screens because Rondo will use them to penetrate, rather than beat you with his jumper. When Jrue's out of the game, expect Rondo to go bonkers against Lou or Willie.
- Lou vs. Ray Allen - The best way to get a slumping shooter out of his slump is to give him wide-open looks. Yes, Lou Williams is a perfect slump buster. If Allen is guarding Lou, we should see another offensive explosion from LW.
- Iguodala vs. Pierce - Like the other two-thirds of the big three, Pierce is clearly slowing down. Unfortunately, his game is morphing and he's quietly becoming a deadly three-point shooter while he continues to rely more on guile than athleticism. Iguodala needs to attack on the offensive end.
- Thad vs. Garnett - Garnett has slipped, but he hasn't fallen. Luckily, the Celts don't run a whole lot of offense through KG. I'd like to see Thad put his speed to use in this matchup tonight. (I'm assuming Brand is out tonight, haven't heard definitively though).
- Dalembert vs. Perkins - Sam need to concentrate all of his energy on keeping Perkins off the offense glass (for the 25 minutes he's on the bench, he needs to concentrate on watching Speights fail miserably at the same task).
- Bench - Sheed is having a terrible season. It may have something to do with the 30 extra pounds he's lugging around with him. Nate Robinson was brought in to provide a spark off the bench (hopefully the same role someone will overpay to get Lou Williams to fill next season). I'm very, very glad Leon Powe is no longer a part of this unit. The Sixers will hope to get some offense to offset the defensive liabilities they have coming off the bench. Correction, I hope to get enough offense to offset the bad defense. Eddie Jordan loves bad defense.
If the Sixers recent despicable play can be blamed on motivation, or a lack thereof, tonight's game has the potential to be an upset. The Celtics are one of the few elite teams who see to spark a fire in this Sixers team neither pride nor their hapless coach can anymore. Nothing would surprise me tonight. A blowout win, either way? Completely within the realm of possibility. I tend to think if the game is close, like decided by one or two possessions either way, the Sixers are highly unlikely to come out on top.
Key to The Game: The Celtics' energy level.
If ______ the Sixers will win: Big minutes and a big game from either Jrue, Dalembert or both.
This is your game thread. The tip is at 7pm, I'll be here throughout, procrastinating my weekend husbandly duties, so join me if your significant other can't believe you're wasting this much time watching a 22-38 basketball team.