Celtics-76ers Preview


Saddled with a grueling road-heavy schedule, things haven't come easy for the Boston Celtics since the All-Star break.

That's also been the case when they've had to travel to Philadelphia.

The Celtics will be coming off a much-needed three-day layoff when they attempt to end their road struggles against the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night.

Boston (31-27) dropped three of four to open a five-game road swing following the break before wrapping up the trip with a hard-fought 110-107 overtime win over Utah on Feb. 25.

The Celtics then limited red-hot Stephen Curry, who was coming off a 54-point effort at New York two days earlier, to 25 points on 6-of-22 shooting in a 94-86 home victory over Golden State on Friday. Paul Pierce led the way with 26 points and Jeff Green had 18 off the bench for Boston, which won for the third time in four games and sits in seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

The Celtics are in the midst of playing nine of 11 on the road.

"Every game is important from here on out because it could mean the difference between the eighth seed and the fourth seed," Pierce said.

While these division rivals conclude their season series Tuesday, they haven't played in almost three months. The 76ers were off to an 11-8 start the last time they met, but they've since lost 27 of 39.

Evan Turner had 26 points, including the winning shot with 3.9 seconds left, and Thaddeus Young added 17 and 12 rebounds to lead the host 76ers (23-35) to a 95-94 overtime win over Boston on Dec. 7. Including last year's postseason series, Philadelphia has won six of seven at home over the Celtics.

Kevin Garnett had 19 points on 9-of-11 shooting but failed to pick up a rebound for the first time since Jan. 21, 1997, and Green added 16 as Boston returned the favor with a 92-79 home victory the following evening. Garnett had a combined 36 points and 20 rebounds in the first two games against the 76ers.

Turner also had a big game with 25 points and 11 rebounds in a 106-100 win at Boston on Nov. 9, but he hasn't played nearly as well lately. He's averaging 12.5 points on 37.6 percent shooting in his last 14 games.

The 76ers have lost eight of nine following a 90-87 defeat at Washington on Sunday.

After scoring 49 while making 21 of 39 from the field in his previous two contests, Jrue Holiday will try to bounce back from a 14-point effort on 4-of-19 shooting. Holiday had 21 points and 14 assists in the win over Boston in November.

"I really feel like we do fight and come to play every single game," Holiday said.

Philadelphia, though, has averaged 86.9 points on 41.8 percent shooting over the last 12 games. It's not likely to be any easier against the Celtics, who have limited their opponents to 90.8 points in regulation over their last four.

Pierce is averaging 21.3 points in this season's series despite shooting 43.1 percent from the field. He's also scored 25.0 per game on 54.9 percent shooting in his last three overall.

Boston has averaged 86.0 points and hit 28.3 percent from 3-point range over its last seven visits to Philadelphia.