After defeating the Los Angeles Lakers by 23 points on Sunday at the Wells Fargo Center, the Sixers will wrap up their tough 12-game stretch on Tuesday night (8:00 p.m. ET) when the Boston Celtics come to town.
The last time these two teams played each other, the Celtics won 121-114, in an overtime thriller at the TD Garden Arena on Christmas Day. However, things have drastically changed for both teams since the holiday season.
In terms of the Sixers, they have one of the best starting lineups in the NBA, after acquiring Tobias Harris from the Los Angeles Clippers in a blockbuster six-player trade last week. Through two games, it seems as if the trade has already paid huge dividends for Philly.
The Celtics, however, did not make a move at the trade deadline and are reeling from two disappointing losses against the Lakers and Clippers. To make matters worse, they are also without starting point guard Kyrie Irving, who is day-to-day with a knee injury.
Nevertheless, it does not matter if the Celtics have Irving or not because we saw what they did last season without him in the NBA playoffs.
Can the Sixers finally get a win over their hated rivals before they head to New York on Wednesday? Or will the Celtics continue their dominance over the revamped 76ers?
Here are a couple of things to watch out for in this primetime contest:
1. Keeping Tatum under wraps
Without Irving for the time being, the Sixers will have their hands full with second-year forward Jayson Tatum. This season, the former third overall pick is averaging 16.4 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.9 assists in 31.1 minutes per game.
Over his short NBA career, the 6-foot-8 forward has been a thorn in the Sixers’ side.
In six regular-season games, Tatum is 17.2 points and 6.2 rebounds a game. However, he is only shooting 26.1-percent from three-point range against the Sixers, which is his third-worst shooting percentage versus any team.
Therefore, Philly must force Tatum away the basket and not allow him to get the ball where he wants it. Expect Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris to split time defending him.
2. Simmons bounce back game?
Even though he took four jump shots in Sunday’s game, second-year point guard Ben Simmons overall struggled offensively against the Lakers.
Simmons only scored eight points on 3-of-13 shooting from the field, missing many shots at the rim. For the Sixers to come away with their third-straight victory, the 6-foot-10 guard must do a better job finishing at the rim.
In the Christmas Day thriller, Simmons barely missed out on a triple-double (11 points, 14 rebounds, and eight assists) but when it counted the most, could not make the plays late to help the Sixers capture the victory.
Celtics vs. Sixers viewing information
Date: Tuesday, Feb. 12
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Free live stream: Reddit.com