On paper, the Sixers have absolutely no shot to win this game tonight. But on the hardwood...yeah, pretty much the same thing. It'll be a miracle if the Celts don't win by 20+ points. Preview and game thread after the jump.
If you've been living in a cave, you may no know Allen Iverson will miss the game with an arthritic knee. Word on the street is Eddie Jordan will go with this starting lineup:
- Jrue Holiday
- Willie Green
- Andre Iguodala
- Thad Young
- Sam Dalembert
Coach Eddie Jordan didn't want to
The marquee matchup is Iguodala on Pierce. Pierce has taken a lesser role in the offense this season, but he's absolutely shooting the lights out (48% FG, 44% 3PT). The two have had a nice back-and-forth in their mathcups in recent years. Pierce torched Thad twice already this season. I'll definitely be keeping an eye on those two, but the highlight for me is Rondo vs. Jrue.
Jrue's time as a starter seems to be drawing to a close. Lou Williams will apparently follow in Marreese Speights' footsteps and be rushed back several weeks early from an injury. Eddie Jordan pointed to the Washington game on Tuesday as his potential return date. Not only are Jrue's minutes drying up in the near future, but Rondo vs. Jrue could be the best defensive PG matchup in the league for the next decade.
Jrue has shut down Monta Ellis, Russell Westbrook, Mo Williams and Delonte West in his past three starts, and shut them down in spectacular fashion. Rondo is the type of player you can absolutely take out of a game, his hole is his jumper (and free throws), and I'm sure Jrue will do everything he can to expose the hole. Inducing 18-foot jumpers out of Rondo is a defensive win, go under screens, etc. Keeping him out of the paint is your primary objective.
I'm expecting Boston to dominate us on the glass and rain threes pretty much all night long. The small lineup doesn't create too many mismatches Boston will exploit with their starting lineup. Garnett is unselfish to a fault, always has been, so I doubt we'll see him on the blocks much with Thad guarding him. Perkins isn't much of a threat on the offense end either. I expect those two will the bulk of their damage on the glass.
The offensive matchup I like is Thad being covered by Kevin Garnett. The Big Ticket still talks quite a game, but his body just doesn't allow him to back it up to the same degree. His secondary numbers are down across the board, he's a step slower and I do believe Thad can burn him with his quickness. Of course, Thad would probably have the same advantage on Paul Pierce on that end, not that it matters.
It looks like Speights will play after dinging his injured knee in practice yesterday, meaning the Celtics' bench advantage has gown from monumental to merely gigantic. Sheed is actually having a sub-par year, but he torched the Sixers on pick-and-pop situations earlier, and the Sixers have a nasty habit of breaking guys out of their shooting slumps. Interested in seeing how Jrue handles the down screens Boston runs for Eddie House when he gets into the game as well.
The Sixers competed against the Cavs. They didn't win, but they did compete. I think they'll need to do more than that tonight against the Celts to even keep the game close, but it is possible. More than the final score, though, I'll be soaking in Jrue's minutes and keeping track of the battles within the game.
Key to the Game: Let's go with the old standbyes of rebounding and three-point defense until the Sixers actually play a solid game in both areas.
If ____________ the Sixers will win: Brian Scalabrine doesn't get off the bench.
This is your game thread, I'm going to have to watch tonight's game on DVR, so keep it focused and somewhat clean in there, guys.
Despite the weather, he field trip is on for tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you guys there.