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Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers: Preview, Analysis and Predictions

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Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers: Preview, Analysis and Predictions
USA TODAY Sports

In an Atlantic Division showdown, the Boston Celtics will travel to play their rival, the Philadelphia 76ers. This will be the fourth and final game between the two teams in 2012-13.

It could also go a long way towards shaping the bottom half of the Eastern Conference playoff structure.

The Celtics are currently 31-27 overall and 10-18 on the road. They've won eight of 12, and most recently took home a 94-86 victory over the Golden State Warriors.

With that being said, Boston has gone 3-4 during their past seven road games.

As for Philadelphia, they are 23-35 and a full 6.5 games behind the Milwaukee Bucks for eighth in the East. The Sixers are 17-15 at home, however, and recently broke a seven-game losing streak with a win over the Warriors.

They followed that up with a 90-87 loss to the Washington Wizards.

The question is: Which team gained more momentum by defeating the Warriors? So far, Philly has shown all the signs of a team on the collapse.

Boston, however, can't take their rivals as a cakewalk—not after losing two of the first three games against them in 2012-13.

 

Time: Tuesday, Mar. 5 at 7:00 p.m. ET

TV: TNT

Records: Boston Celtics (31-27) at Philadelphia 76ers (23-35)

Betting Line: N/A as of Mar. 3 at 6:00 p.m. ET

 

Boston Celtics' Injury Report

Rajon Rondo, Out, Torn ACL

Jared Sullinger, Out, Back Surgery

 

Philadelphia 76ers' Injury Report

Andrew Bynum, Out, Various Knee Injuries

Jason Richardson, Out, Knee Cartilage Tear

Nick Young, Questionable, Sprained Ankle

 

Key Storyline: Intra-Division Bragging Rights

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

When the Boston Celtics travel to play the Philadelphia 76ers, one of the NBA's great rivalries will be rekindled. More importantly, the rivalry's bragging rights will be decided in Philadelphia.

If the Sixers win, they'll take the season series by a mark of three games to one. If they lose, however, Boston will earn an even split.

Bragging rights may then come down to which team makes it further in the playoffs.

Julius Erving may not be punching Larry Bird in the face come Tuesday, but tensions will be at a high. Both teams are in the "must-win" stages of their seasons, as each have plenty to lose and even more to gain.

Boston is just 2.5 games behind the Atlanta Hawks for home court advantage in the first round. They're 5.0 games behind the New York Knicks for the division lead.

As for Philadelphia, they are 6.5 games out of the playoffs—not as unmanageable as you may believe with the Milwaukee Bucks having lost nine of 14.

 

Key Matchup: Jrue Holiday vs. Avery Bradley

Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

When the Philadelphia 76ers meet the Boston Celtics, we will see a rising all-around point guard face off against a supreme defender. That is a battle between Jrue Holiday and Avery Bradley.

Just ask Stephen Curry how difficult it can be to face these two.

Holiday is currently averaging 19.2 points and 8.6 assists per game. During his most recent outing, a 104-97 win over the Warriors, Holiday dropped 27 points and seven assists against Curry.

Almost as torturous as Bradley's defense.

Curry has a season slash line of .446/.452/.903. Matched up against Bradley, however, Curry shot just 6-of-22 from the field and 3-of-11 from beyond the arc.

Whether or not Holiday can find greater success against Bradley will decide this game.

 

X-Factor: Thaddeus Young, Philadelphia 76ers

USA TODAY Sports

If the Philadelphia 76ers are to win this game, they must exploit their positional advantages. Considering those are quite limited, it is on Thaddeus Young to dominate the glass and score at a high rate.

An easy task for the former Georgia Tech standout.

Young is averaging 10.5 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 1.0 blocks over his past four games. If he's able to contribute in such a manner, the Sixers may just etch out a victory.

Considering he's matched up against a less athletic Brandon Bass, Young should flourish in such a capacity. If he fails to, however, the Sixers will struggle to achieve victory at any position.

Young's contributions will decide this game.

 

Prediction

When the Boston Celtics travel to play the Philadelphia 76ers, it will be a tale of two teams heading in opposite directions. Although both won against a tough Golden State squad in recent days, we cannot deny the factor of momentum.

The Sixers are 11-26 since Dec. 10 and 2-8 since Feb. 6.

Boston, meanwhile, has gone 11-4 since Jan. 27. They're as hot as any team in basketball, even as they face debilitating injuries.

With smothering defense, the Celtics should continue their reign by taking down the Sixers.

The 76ers rank 22nd in both team field-goal percentage and three-point field goals made per game. Going up against a team that has recently re-discovered the three, Philly could be in trouble come Tuesday.

Look for Paul Pierce to step up late and continue this recent hot streak by the Celtics.

Boston Celtics 92, Philadelphia 76ers 83

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