This ain’t Bird, Malone, that’s for sure. In a battle of the rebuilding franchises, The Celtics (18-30) host the Philadelphia 76ers (11-39) on Friday at the TD Garden. The Celtics are riding a two game winning streak, after posting three consecutive losses.
The last two Celtics wins have coincided with guard Marcus Smart getting the starting nod over Evan Turner at point guard. Smart has looked like a grizzled veteran of late, showing great leadership and all around basketball IQ.
The 76ers, winners of their past three games at home, will try to avoid losing an eighth consecutive road game tonite in Boston. Hollis Thompson scored a career-high 23 points Tuesday to lead the Sixers to a victory over Denver 105-98.
The 76ers (5-21 on the Road) rank last in the NBA at 84.8 points per game and 39.1 percent shooting on the road. Along with the recent success at home, Philly kept it tight with two of the beasts in the East (Cleveland, Atlanta) in their past two road outings.
Three Things to Look For
Can The Celtics Stop Michael Carter Williams? Between Smart and Bradley, the Celtics have the weapons defensively to stop Williams, who has really been the standout for Philly this year. Williams who was drafted 11th last year is starting to live up to his promise, and is averaging 15pts, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds a game. Williams is battling a foot injury, so if he doesn’t suit up for Philly, then expect the Celtics to roll big.
Will Sully Show Up on Time for Practice? Jared Sullinger has missed two walkthroughs in the past week, leading to Tyler Zeller getting the start versus Miami and Denver. Sully still looked good in the game versus the Nuggets, and he seems sorry about his mistakes.
Do Celts have an Answer for Noel? Nerlens Noel is an Everett native and will be making his first appearance in Boston as a pro. In the two matchups against Boston this year Noel has dominated–averaging 15 points, 8 boards, 4 assists, 2.5 steals and nearly 2 blocks a game. This guy is a baller and without Olynyk, Sully and Zeller will have their hands full guarding this guy.
Oddsmakers have the Celtics as 8 point favorites. While Philly has played better than what their record might indicate, I still think the Celts win and cover at home.
Prediction: Boston 104, Philly 91
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