BOSTON (CBS) – The Boston Celtics have a rare home-and-home with the Philadelphia 76ers this weekend, starting with a Friday night tilt in the city of brotherly love.

Celtics play-by-play man Mike Gorman joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich Friday morning, and said the Celtics have a chance to send a bit of a message to the rest of the Atlantic Division this weekend.

“We never have these back-to-back against the same team. It’s a good chance for the Celtics to pick up a couple of games and start to make a little bit of a statement in the Atlantic Division,” said Gorman. “That’s the biggest different from years past; it seemed no matter how good or bad the Celtics were they would win the division. That isn’t the case with the Knicks and the Nets, and even the 76ers are in the hunt there.”

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The Celtics sit at 10-8 on the season – seventh in the Eastern Conference and fourth in the Atlantic — and are just 1-3 against their foes in the Atlantic. While the first third of the season is used by nearly all teams to get a feel for what they have, Gorman said Boston has a long way to go on the defensive end of the floor.

“We still have some feeling to do, that’s for sure. It’s always been a time issue with this team. It’s always been eight new bodies in the 12 man (rotation),” said Gorman. “Guys get used to offense very quickly; they get used to defense a lot slower. I still think it’s been a time issue with this team. Offensively, the team has been very fun to watch. Defensively, not so much, and that’s where the work needs to be done.”

“If I were to give the team a grade, I guess probably a B to this point, maybe a B-,” he said.

The Celtics are 30th in the NBA when it comes to rebounding, averaging just 37.8 rebounds per game. That’s a number Gorman says needs to improve in order for Boston to reach their championship aspirations, and while fans should be used to their struggles with offensive rebounds, this year’s Celtics need to pick up their production on the defensive glass.

“I don’t think rebounding is end all be all, but you can’t be last in rebounding if you want to entertain championship hopes,” he said. “You have to be somewhere in the middle of the pack – at worst. The Celtics still have a lot of work to do on the rebounding side of the ball; the defensive rebounding side of the ball. They’ll never be a good offensive rebounding team because that’s just not a priority for them… but that doesn’t forgive you on the defensive glass.”

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“I think it’s just effort and more minutes for guys like (Jared) Sullinger,” added Gorman. “I think (Brandon) Bass has got the message and has been a better rebounder over the last week and a half. KG is a consistent seven, eight rebounds a game, and Paul (Pierce) is actually having a decent rebounding year. It’s going to be a team effort.”


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