BOSTON (CBS) – The Celtics will look to get back in the win column Friday night when they visit the young, upstart Philadelphia 76ers.
The matchup could be a preview of the first round of the playoffs. The 76ers (33-31) are currently seventh in the Eastern Conference, an impressive record for a team that finished sixth-worst in the NBA just a season ago. Philadelphia has won seven of their last 10 and 16 of their last 22.
The Celtics, who currently lead Chicago by a game-and-a-half for the top spot in the East, are looking to bounce back from 108-103 loss to the Clippers at home Wednesday. Los Angeles jumped out to an 18-point halftime lead, and the Celtics could never recover.
“We got to address it now, getting off to better starts,” Captain Paul Pierce said. “I like the way we’ve been finishing games. If we got off to better starts, with the way we’ve been finishing, we’ll be able to put together 48 minutes of basketball. But right now there’s a lot of inconsistency. Some of that has to do with implementing new guys, but like I said, we have to get off to better starts, and that’s with the guys who’ve already been here.”
“There’s chemistry that we have to get back to, where we were before we made trades, having that rhythm out on the floor,” guard Ray Allen said. “There are issues; we have to get to get to that point, getting them adjusted to what we’re doing on both ends of the floor. Is something you can’t say happens immediately.”
The Celtics dressed 10 players for Wednesday’s game, and will probably do the same in Philadelphia. Glen “Big Baby” Davis practiced with the team Friday morning, but will not return from knee tendonitis until next week. Delonte West (ankle) and Shaquille O’Neal (Achilles) are also out, so the Celtics will depend heavily once again on new guys Jeff Green, Troy Murphy, and Carlos Arroyo off the bench.
“We’re just trying to get the plays right and do what’s right out there,” said Arroyo, who made his Celtics debut Wednesday. “All of us are still trying to learn the plays, myself too. It’s a time where we need to understand where we’re going when we’re out there. We’ll get it.”
Pierce has struggled against the 76ers so far this season, averaging just 10 points and shooting 30-percent in their first two games. Allen has picked up the slack though, scoring 23 and 22 points in the Celtics’ two wins over Philadelphia.
Elton Brand and Andre Iguodala lead the way for the 76ers averaging 18+ points-per-game, along with point guard Jrue Holiday who is having a great sophomore campaign in the NBA. The 20-year-old is averaging 13.9 points and 6.4 assists-per-game.