This edition of “Fo’ with the Foes” – Philadunkia’s advanced scouting series which with the help of an accomplished journalist from around the NBA beat or blog world, previews key upcoming 76ers games – features tonight’s opponent, the Boston Celtics who have lost 6 of their last 7 games and received a 26-point smackdown from the New York Knicks last night.
After the jump, I’ll look a Fo’ key items for tonight’s game. Additionally, we’ll get a little more insight into this Boston team the Sixers face tonight from our colleague Kwapt B at red’sarmy.com, as Kwapt B will answer Fo’ questions on his Celtics squad from us here at Philadunkia.
Here are Fo’ key items I will be watching for tonight…
1) Quick Start: I asked for this t0 happen against the Suns on Monday night and the 76ers failed miserably to deliver, falling behind 8-2 and 29-9. Boston played last night (well sort of) and lost in NYC by 26 points. The C’s starters did not carry heavy minutes but in theory they should be somewhat tired and demoralized. So, again I am asking that the rested Sixers come out in the opening minutes of the 1st quarter and play with a ton of energy; take and make quality shots; and play respectable defense. Hopefully that type of fast start provides a springboard for a Sixers W tonight; or for those of you on the tanking bandwagon, at least a competitive loss.
2) MCW vs. Rondo: Based on MCW’s recent struggles shooting the ball (33% from the field in last 4 gms) it seems the ROY candidate has run smack into the “rookie wall”. As we all know, he’s had trouble with smaller, quicker guards all season and that trend continued on Monday night when Goran Dragic simply killed him. However, Rajon Rondo is no where near 100% recovered from his knee injury, so he is not the lightening quick guard he was before ACL surgery. In general he also looks a little rusty. Tonight I am looking for MCW to take advantage of the less than full healthy Rondo, get to the rim for easy buckets and get his shooting touch back on track.
3) Hollis Thompson: The former starting shooting guard has played very well off the bench over the last 5 games — 9.2 ppg.; 18-26 from the field (69.2%) and 7-9 on 3PAs (77.7%). Boston’s second unit is suspect on the wing and I think that could lead to another solid night from Hollis. Any contributions the Sixers can get from their bench would be a big lift for this team right now.
4) 3-point Line: The 76ers (ranked 29th at 31.7% on 3PM) and the Celtics (ranked 28th at 32.5% on 3PM) are two of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the League. At the other end of the floor, we all know that the Sixers are simply lost when it comes to defense along the arc — opponents shoot 26.4 threes per night (highest average in the NBA) and hit 36.8% from deep (ranked 20th in the NBA). Boston however is one of the best teams at defending the 3-point line — opponents average only 18.7 attempts per game (5th lowest rate in the NBA) and hit only 34.8% of 3PAs (7th best defensively in NBA). Can the Sixers perimeter defense hold the C’s 3-point shooters to their usual unimpressive stats or will Boston find the range from deep vs. the 7-6 (As everyone else has…)?
Q&A with Kwapt B at red’sarmy.com:
Philadunkia: The Celtics have lost 6 of their last 7. Are there one or two things you can point to that have plagued the team during this stretch?
Kwapt B at red’sarmy.com: The most obvious, especially over these last three losses, is the lack of offense. Boston has really struggled to find scoring since Avery Bradley went down an ankle injury about a week ago. Green continues to be inconsistent, and Rajon Rondo of course is still rusty. Between RR getting 100% healthy & getting to know his new teammates’ habits, this could take a while. The other issue to point to is Boston’s inability to close. They’ve gotten tight at just the wrong moments late in games, and are a young team that has yet to find a way to play 48 mins of good bball.
Philadunkia: Since his return to action Rajon Rondo’s numbers have not been impressive. That probably is to be expected after a major knee injury. But in the small sample size you have, how has he looked to you?
Kwapt B at red’sarmy.com: I’d say he’s right where I expect him to be. We’ve seen small flashes of his former self, especially in the Brooklyn game on Sunday, but he’s got a ways to go. And as I mentioned above, this is his first time playing with 90% of this year’s squad. He’s going to have some frustrating moments where he gets to know them & vice versa.
Philadunkia: What has impressed you the most about rookie coach Brad Stevens?
Kwapt B at red’sarmy.com: For a guy who has never coached at this level, he is amazingly laid back. Perfect example comes from Boston’s buzzer-beater win over the Heat in Miami. He was stoic as his team went wild after Jeff Green buried a three to steal a huge win in South Beach. If he is nervous or apprehensive about being in charge of this team, he is doing a hell of a job at hiding it.
Philadunkia: Where do you stand on the idea of tanking for teams like the Celtics and Sixers as a path to a brighter future?
Kwapt B at red’sarmy.com: I personally detest the idea of purposely losing, and as Celtics fans, we’re a very proud bunch. Players like Jared Sullinger declared early on that Boston would never tank, and said that they’d compete every night, but they haven’t proved it yet. I absolutely do not think the Celts are “tanking” on purpose, but the energy & effort is simply not there every night. The way I see it, I hate, hate HATE to lose, but if it gets this team closer to acquiring talent that will make them better, oh well. I guess the fact of the matter is that Boston is not a very good team this year. Period. Celts fans need to strap in, stock up on booze and have faith that “Trader Dan” will deliver them from the cellar once again.
Thanks to Kwapt B for his time and answers.
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