at Philadelphia 76ers (22-12) at Boston Celtics (19-13)
Regular Season Game #33, Home Game #16
Tuesday, December 25, 2018
5:30 PM ET
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, 97.5 The Fanatic
TD GardenProbable Starting Matchups Point Guard
Kyrie Irving vs Ben Simmons
Marcus Smart vs JJ Redick Small Forward
Jayson Tatum vs Jimmy ButlerPoward Forward
Marcus Morris vs Mike Muscala Center
Al Horford vs Joel Embiid
Jabari Bird (personal) out
Aron Baynes (hand) out Two Way Players
PJ DozierHead Coach
Brad StevensSixers Reserves
Wilson Chandler (quad contusion) day to day
Zhaire Smith (foot) out
Justin Patton (foot) out
Markelle Fultz (shoulder) out
Two Way Players
Brett BrownGame Notes
The Celtics host just the 2nd Christmas Day game in their storied history. The first was last season when they hosted, and lost to, the Washington Wizards. The Celtics always played on the road on Christmas because Red Auerbach never wanted to make all of the Garden personnel work on Christmas.
This is the second meeting of these two teams this season. They met at the Garden in the season opener where the Celtics won 105-87, giving Celtics fans visions of dominating the league for the entire season. Things haven't exactly worked out that way but with their big win on Friday, hopes are again trending up. These two teams will meet twice more in Philadelphia on February 12 and again on March 20.
The Sixers are in 4th place in the East, 2.5 games behind Toronto, who they beat on Saturday. The Celtics are in 5th place, 2 games behind the Sixers. This game is important for both teams positioning in the standings. The Sixers have won their last 2 games while the Celtics are looking for their second straight win.
These are definitely not the same two teams that met in October. The Celtics have have the same players but have changed their starting lineup and will be missing Aron Baynes, who is out with a hand injury. The Sixers, however, no longer have Robert Covington and Dario Saric, who started in their first game. Markelle Fultz, who also started that game is likely out for most, if not all of the season with a shoulder injury.
They do have Jimmy Butler, who has given their offense a boost and also is a defensive presence. Wilson Chandler, who normally starts at power forward, is listed as day to day with a quad contusion. Justin Patton (foot) and Zhaire Smith (foot) are listed as out. They had called up their two way players, former Celtic, Demetrius Jackson, and Shake Milton, for their win over the Raptors on Saturday night and they may or may not be active for this game. Key Matchups
Kyrie Irving vs Ben Simmons
Simmons is averaging 15.8 points, 9.1 rebounds, 7.9 assists and 1.4 steals. The 6'10"Simmons will have a distinct height advantage on pretty much any point guard, including Kyrie Irving. Kyrie should have an advantage on the offensive end and in ball handling. If the Celtics can keep him outside it should help to slow him down since Simmons hasn't attempted a 3 pointer this season.
Al Horford vs Joel Embiid
Embiid is a tough cover for any of the Celtics who are matched up against him. He is averaging 26.3 points, 13.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.8 blocks per game and is the Sixers best player. This is where the Celtics will miss Aron Baynes, who matches up with Embiid fairly well. We will likely get to see how Daniel Theis and Robert Williams match up against hm as well. Again, the Celtics need to keep Embiid away from the basket where he is less effective, although he is shooting 31% from three. They especially need to keep him from running the lane for open dunks. Honorable Mention
Jason Tatum vs Jimmy Butler
Butler is averaging 19.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 2.0 steals. This may end up being the most important matchup as Tatum needs to keep Butler from having a big game. He is capable of taking over a game if not guarded well. He also doesn't shade away from taking the big shot either as the Celtics have found out in the past. If Butler is blanketing Tatum with defense, he needs to not force things and depend on his teammates to take up the slack. Keys to the GameDefense
- Defense wins Championships. The Celtics are third in the league with a defensive rating of 103.5 while the Sixers are 12th with a defensive rating of 107.6. The Celtics definitely stepped up their defense after their recent team meetings and they need to continue to put out the extra effort on this end if they want to win this one. Be Aggressive
- The Celtics have to be the more aggressive team and go after all the loose balls, and aggressively go after rebounds, and be aggressive on defense. They also have to be aggressive in taking the ball into the paint. The Celtics need to be the hardest working and toughest team on the court. We know that the Sixers will be aggressive and play hard and the Celtics need to match or better their effort. Rebound
- The Celtics need to crash the boards as they can't score if they don't have the ball. Much of rebounding is effort and intensity and the Celtics showed both against the Hornets. They have been inconsistent in this area this season though. It is very important for the Celtics to continue to put out the extra effort on the boards if they want to beat the Sixers.
Play the Right Way
- The Celtics need to move the ball and play as a team on both ends of the court. They have to make the extra pass and find the open man and not lapse into hero ball. They have to play tough team defense and trust each other on both ends of the court. They have to attack the basket if their 3's aren't falling. Most of all, they have to play with extra effort and focus. X-Factors
Home Game - The Celtics are at home and will get a boost from the home crowd. Hopefully the crowd can rattle the young Sixers as well. The Sixers are fairly dominant at home with a 16-3 record but they have not been as dominant on the road with just 6 wins in 15 games away from home. The Garden should be loud and give the Celtics that extra push they need to get the win.
- The Sixers' 692 free throws and 893 attempt lead the Eastern Conference. They are just 18th in points in the paint with 18.4 per game and so they are often drawing fouls on jumpers. The Celtics have to be careful not to put the Sixers on the line. Hopefully the officials will call it fair and not give Philly an unfair advantage on the line. Lessons Learned
- The Celtics had team meetings on Friday and Saturday and came out of those meetings to dominate a Hornets team that had beaten them earlier in the season. Will the Celtics remember the lessons of teamwork and extra effort that they discussed in the meeting or will they forget them this quickly?