Preview: 76ers at Celtics
The Philadelphia 76ers continue to dominate on their home floor while sometimes struggling for success on the road, a trend that began with an 18-point loss at Boston to begin the season. The Sixers hope some holiday spirit will lift them in a return trip to TD Garden to take on the host Celtics on Christmas Day.
Philadelphia improved to an NBA-best 16-3 at home by routing Eastern Conference-leading Toronto 126-101 on Saturday, but they carry a 6-9 road mark into the opener of a challenging five-game road trip at Boston, which some see as an opportunity to truly test the team. “…Take it a bit further and look at the month of January,” coach Brett Brown recently told reporters. “It is real and it’s just the way it should be. We love it. We want this. We hope we can extract as much health to perform against that schedule as possible.” The Celtics have their own road trip on he horizon but first hope to finish a four-game homestand all even after dropping the first two games and then topping Charlotte 119-103 on Sunday. Kyrie Irving scored 25 points on 9-of-12 shooting as Boston snapped a three-game slide.
TV: 5:30 p.m. ET, ABC
ABOUT THE 76ERS (22-12): Center Joel Embiid recorded three straight double-doubles and five in his last six games after producing 27 points and 11 rebounds in the win over the Raptors, and the star big man is looking forward to the spotlight of the holiday affair. “It’s exciting to play on Christmas. It is a showcase day for our league. It is an honor,” Embiid told reporters. “I am not going to go into the rest of my thoughts on playing on Christmas, but it is an honor. You want to play at your best and they are the team that knocked us out of the playoffs this year so we know we have to be at our best to play them.” The 24-year-old had 25 points, 16 rebounds and three blocked shots in a Christmas Day win at Madison Square Garden last year.
ABOUT THE CELTICS (19-13): The end of Boston’s losing streak occurred in Al Horford’s return from a knee injury, and its was not seen as a coincidence. “You take a lot of comfort in having him out on the floor,” coach Brad Stevens told reporters of Horford, who made all four of his shots and had a plus-19 rating in his 19 minutes after missing the previous seven games. “There’s no question about that.” Boston also got power forward Marcus Morris back from a two-game layoff and the veteran finished with 12 points and a team-high eight rebounds in 20 minutes.
1. The Celtics fell 111-103 to Washington on Christmas last season in the first home game on the holiday in franchise history.
2. Sixers SG JJ Redick made 4-of-5 3-pointers in the win over the Raptors after going 13-for-49 over his previous seven games.
3. Irving averages 23.9 points on 52.9 percent shooting — 46.1 percent from 3-point range — at home.