This very late, very brief 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 upcoming 76ers opponents — features tonight’s opponent the aging and banged up, but still very good Boston Celtics.
The 76ers are riding a 5-game home winning streak and have won 4 of their last 5 overall so they have some momentum going for the first time all year. Still this sudden wave of good play and success will not be enough to carry the 7-6 past an injury riddled Boston squad. Obviously we hope and pray that Sixers win tonight, but we just don’t see it happening.
Here’s the reason why…Even though the C’s appear ripe for the picking — they played last night while the Sixers are rested, they have a host of injuries that have put key players out and their starters are banged up, one thing is for certain — Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen will be on the floor tonight. Shaq will most likely make a cameo as well. Those facts give the C’s a distinct advantage over Philadunkia’s home team as we simply don’t have that kind of talent. So even though the 7-6 went 1-3 vs. Boston last year and played them tough in several of those defeats (L’s by 3 and 10 points), we feel the Sixers will be over matched again tonight and suffer a close loss to their arch rivals.
For a little more insight into the Celtics team the Sixers face tonight, we turn to our man Ryan DeGama from celticshub.com to answer two questions on the Celtics from us here at Philadunkia as well as provide us with two points of analysis on this Boston squad from an insider’s perspective.
Philadunkia : Can Doc Rivers successfully “manage” your veteran lineup’s minutes again this year so that the C’s have fresh legs for the Playoffs?
Ryan DeGama @ celticshub.com: It’s almost as if Danny Ainge saw how well Doc managed the minutes last year and decided to up the degree of difficulty by handing him the ancient Shaq and the terminally hobbled Jermaine O’Neal. And before Doc’s head could stop spinning, Danny imported a Turkish rookie center with a bum shoulder. That’s three health questions at the 5-spot alone (four if you include Kendrick Perkins being out).
If this rash of major and minor ailments keeps up, Doc will find himself in the same position he was last year: balancing the need to win games day-to-day with getting his elder statesmen rest through the middle of the season. If it comes to that, I think you’ll see the Celtics losing winnable games in the New Year, as Doc is forced to give high-leverage minutes to the Avery Bradley and Luke Harangody’s of the world.
If last year taught the Celtics anything, it’s that one way or another, the starters have to be fresh come the playoffs. Because all the C’s title hopes ride on their ability to perform at a high level.
Philadunkia : When you read about the C’s it sounds as if their injury list is piling up and that at practice the ball boys are playing. But look at the box score and you learn that most of the key guys played last night. So which lingering “injury” to one of the veteran Celtics are you most worried will cause real problems this season?
Ryan DeGama @ celticshub.com :At this point, I expect nothing out of Jermaine O’Neal. So, with another two months or so before Kendrick Perkins returns, and even longer before he’s playing like himself again, Shaq becomes a huge x factor. If the Big Shamrock goes down for any length of time, the Celtics will probably end up with Glen Davis and Kevin Garnett splitting the minutes at center, and Doc being forced to experiment with a whole lot of weird small-ball lineups in the second and fourth quarters. That’s when you might see what kind of game those ball boys have.
Two Points of Analysisfrom Ryan DeGama @ celticshub.com :
1) And as a tag to all that, Rajon Rondo’s lingering hamstring injury terrifies me. If he goes down (he was still struggling with it as recently as last night) the Celtics could have serious problems scoring the basketball.
2) Look out for Ray-Ray…Allen turned in a sick shooting night Wednesday vs. Denver. He hit nine of his 14 shots for 28 points. Allen came out firing, hitting four of his first six shots, including three from downtown, resulting in 12 early points. The early buckets helped Boston open up a double-digit lead just three minutes after the teams jumped ball.