NBA Game of the Week: Celtics vs. 76ers
It's a battle of Eastern Conference powerhouses as the Philadelphia 76ers (39-19) take on the Boston Celtics (43-17) in the City of Brotherly Love on primetime Saturday night. This contest potentially has huge playoff implications as the current number-one-seed Celtics lead the third-seeded Sixers by a mere three games.
For the last five years, the Celtics and Sixers have been among the top contenders in the east, but Beantown has had the sixers number of late. The Celtics are 2-0 against the Sixers this season, including a 106-99 win on February 8th, and hold an 8-1 record over their last two playoff series.
Both teams are fresh off victories with late-game heroics.
The 76ers came back against Memphis and pulled ahead with under a minute to take their first lead since taking a 7-6 lead with 9:13 to go in the opening quarter. On the other hand, the Celtics survived a second-half comeback against the middling Indiana Pacers and took care of business in overtime.
Joel "The Process" Embiid is having yet another MVP-caliber campaign for Philly, averaging 33 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists a night. He has yet to show much decline against Boston averaging 27 points in the two games.
Conversely, the tandem of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown has been virtually unstoppable for Boston as each put up over 25 points per game and leads an offense that averages 118.3 a night, good enough for third in the NBA.
Along with their potent offense, the Celtics force 12.7 turnovers per game, which almost matches Philadelphia's mark of giveaways per game, 13.7, which is suitable for eighth best in the league. Look for the 76ers to be more careful of the ball than usual to limit Boston's possessions.
For Philadelphia, the significant difference between its previous matchup against Boston and this upcoming one is the absence of Matisse Thybulle. The fourth-year forward was shipped to Portland at the trade deadline and was a defensive mastermind for the Sixers specializing in steals.
Over the second half of the season, someone has to step up. If Philadelphia wants to make it past the second round for the first time since 2000-01, they will need guys like Shake Milton and De'Anthony Melton to pick up the slack.
The Celtics were a few games from reaching the promised land last season and fell to the Warriors in the finals, and there's always a little extra pressure when you're that close to climbing the mountaintop. Only one game separates the C's and the Milwaukee Bucks. If they want to stave off a meeting with Giannis Antetokounmpo and company earlier than expected in the postseason, seemingly every game is a must-win.
Philadelphia's starting five is one of the best in the league, with established stars like Embiid and James Harden. They also have weapons like young gun Tyrese Maxey and solid veteran Tobias Harris who can spread the floor and play well on the perimeter.
On paper, the Sixers should be the stronger team as their core players are arguably much better than Boston's role players, like the aging Al Horford and journeyman Malcolm Brogdon. But for one reason or another, Philadelphia hasn't been able to take care of business when it matters most.
Tip-off is set for Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center at 8:30 pm on ABC.
JC Colavita is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Second-year / Broadcast Journalism
JC Colavita is a second-year broadcast journalism student in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. He is involved in CommRadio and hopes to hone his broadcasting skills calling Big Ten sports and enhancing his knowledge of sports and entertainment through his production of talk shows and podcasts. He has worked in college summer baseball as he worked for the 2021 Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League Champion Trenton Generals as the lead play-by-play man for their Youtube stream. At Hopewell Valley Central High School in Pennington, New Jersey, JC was a TV video and production class member where he wrote, filmed, edited and produced weekly segments, focusing on both professional and high school. As a driven and passionate broadcast journalism student who dreams of one day calling sports on the biggest stage, he intends to utilize his talents in front of and behind the camera to reach his goals. In the future, he hopes to be immortalized as the voice behind one of the most impactful moments in sports history.