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 despite playing some solid basketball so far this season have now lost three straight (3-6 overall) and are statistically are worse on defense than our 76ers. Over their last 3 defeats the C’s are giving up 116 ppg. and on the season opponents are averaging 109 points per 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 (23-52) the Sixers face tonight from our colleague Chuck McKenney at red’sarmy.com, as Chuck 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) Get A Win: I predicted that the 76ers would start the season 1-10 and this is the game I had circled as the lone win for this squad before Thanksgiving. Thus I want to see Brett Brown put “all his chips in the center of the table” (to quote Tom Coughlin) in order to grab this W. MCW and Noel should be part of the first-five tonight. Wroten or KJ should join them and the one of them who does not start should receive extended minutes tonight as the 6th man. I don’t care what it takes, I want a victory (and I am not taking about the beer either).
2) Sixers Offense: The 76ers have been simply pitiful on offense during this young season. They struggle to score in the paint. The perimeter players, and of course Luc Mbah a Moute (27% on his career), can not shoot the 3-ball (30% as a team). Lastly, Brett Brown’s troops aren’t scoring that well in transition either. However, the Evan Turner led Boston Celtics are simply pathetic on defense so I am looking forward to watching the Sixers actually score the ball for a change. Specifically I’d like to see our half court sets run effectively and continued solid offensive play from MCW. If the 7-6 don’t break the 100 point mark tonight, I may cry.
3) Who Wants It More?: Both of these teams are, well, not good. Both of these teams are in various stages of tanking. Whichever team shows some pride and plays hard right out of the gate will likely win this game. I wouldn’t mind if that team was the 76ers. I will be interested to witness if Brown & Co. appear focused on this game early on; what type of energy level they have in the opening quarter and if they play anything that resembles defense during the 1st half. I think those items will be good indicators as to how badly the Sixers want to shed the doughnut from their win column.
4) Return of “The Enigma”: Philadunkia’s favorite 76ers draft pick and his inefficient game returns to town tonight and I am excited to witness Evan Turner dribble the air out of the ball for team not named the 76ers. I will watch with a smile as he bogs down the Boston offense; cries to the refs and plays ole’ defense because “The Enigma” now plays for the hated Celtics.
Q&A with Chuck McKenney at red’sarmy.com:
Philadunkia: From a distance it seems that our man Evan “The Enigma” Turner was struggling off the bench for Boston, then got a start and put up solid numbers. But since then he has crashed back to earth. We know it’s early, but give us your thoughts on Turner so far.
Chuck McKenney at red’sarmy.com: With Evan Turner, it’s all about expectations and mine are not high. I nearly went into cardiac arrest when Brad Stevens announced that Turner would play some point guard, but he’s been decent. He’s shooting 50% over his last 5 games and averaging 4 apg. His 19 points, 6 assist, 5 rebound game against Chicago turned a lot of heads, but I don’t think anyone expects that output regularly.
Philadunkia: Is there any sense in BOS that this is a huge game for the 76ers and that many of the Philly faithful are viewing this game vs. the C’s as the Sixers best shot at actually winning a game before Thanksgiving?
Chuck McKenney at red’sarmy.com: Huge game? I wouldn’t go quite that far. Celtics fans are far too busy freaking out about Kelly Olynyk’s defense or Rajon Rondo’s free throw shooting to think about Philly. I’m also insulted that you think this game is Philly’s best shot at a win before Thanksgiving. You do realize the 76ers play the Knicks on November 22?
Philadunkia: What has impressed you the most about the Celtics so far this season?
Chuck McKenney at red’sarmy.com: There are a few things. Let’s start with the offense. I challenge you to find a media member, hell, even a fan, who predicted this team would score points (107.4 ppg, 3rd in NBA) at this clip. These guys are pushing the pace and moving the ball (1st in assists). Those are phenomenal numbers considering the Celtics lack a legit go-to scorer. I’m also impressed with their competitiveness. They’ve knocked off Chicago and Brooklyn, and pushed Cleveland, Phoenix and Toronto to the limit. Except for the debacle against OKC, Brad Stevens has these guys playing hard.
Philadunkia: Do you think that Ainge will push the tank button (full blown) and trade Rondo and Turner this season?
Chuck McKenney at red’sarmy.com: First of all, I find it hysterical that you think trading Turner could dramatically impact the season. My answer to your question is – no. I think Danny Ainge will continue with the original plan, which is to develop the young core. I believe Rajon Rondo is part of the that core. It amazes me that approximately 90% of the media in Boston wants Rondo traded. There was a lot of noise about Rondo’s play suffering without the Big 3 (Paul Pierce, KG and Ray Allen). Well, guess who is leading the league in assists?
With the salary cap rising, the Celtics can afford to pay Rondo a near max contract. And his presence long-term will help Ainge sign the alpha dog this team desperately needs. That’s not to say there won’t be trades. I believe Ainge will move Brandon Bass, Marcus Thornton and Jeff Green if he can get something in return. I don’t think any of those guys are part of the long-term vision for the Celtics.
Thanks to Chuck McKenney for his time and answers.
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