Celtics begin tough stretch in Philly

Boston Celtics (1-2) at Philadelphia 76ers (1-1)
Preseason Game #4, Road Game #3
Monday, October 15, 2012
7:00 PM ET
Wells Fargo Center
Referees:  Scott Foster, Scott Bolnick, Derrick Collins
The Celtics begin a busy stretch of 5 games in 7 nights with this game vs the new look Philadelphia 76ers.  Instead of the always hard to guard Andre Iguodala, Paul Pierce will now be matched up with Evan Turner.  Lou Williams is no longer shooting 3's off the bench.  Elton Brand is out and Kwame Brown is in. The Celtics have also changed since they last met in the playoffs with the loss of Ray Allen  and the addition of Jason Terry, Courtney Lee,  Jeff Green, and Jared Sullinger, in particular. 

The Sixers prize free agent from this summer, Andrew Bynum is out indefinitely with knee problems.   For the first two games, the Sixers started a twin towers front line of Spencer Hawes and Kwame Brown.  Brown strained a hamstring in Sunday's practice and is day to day and may or may not play in this game.  If he can't go, it's possible that Hawes may slide over to center and Lavoy Allen may start at power forward.  But, as with any preseason game, it's hard to tell who will start and even who will play. 

The Celtics' game notes project the same starting lineup as the last game, but again,  in the preseason it's hard to tell until just before the game starts who will really be starting.   But expect Doc to continue to experiment with lineups, looking to find the strongest chemistry on his first and second units. Gary Washburn reports that Doc will probably rest KG tonight so that could open the door for a Darko start, or for more minutes for Darko, Fab Melo and Jason Collins.  Or,  Doc could just play small ball all game.  It could get interesting. 

Both teams are coming off a close loss in overtime with the Celtics losing to the Knicks and the Sixers falling to the Nets.   We should again see limited minutes for the starters and extended playing time for the young players who are learning the system and trying to land a roster spot.  

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
Rajon Rondo vs Jrue Holiday

Shooting Guard
Jason Terry vs Royal Ivey

Small Forward
Paul Pierce vs Evan Turner

Power Forward
Brandon Bass vs Spencer Hawes

Kevin Garnett vs Kwame Brown

Celtics Reserves
Jared Sullinger
Dionte Christmas
Jason Collins
Micah Downs
Jeff Green
Kris Joseph
Rob Kurz
Courtney Lee
Fab Melo
Darko Milicic
Jamar Smith

Chris Wilcox (back) day to day
Avery Bradley (shoulders) out

Sixers Reserves
Damien Wilkins
Lavoy Allen
Thaddeus Young
Nick Young
Maalik Wayns
Arnett Moultrie
Dan Gadzuric
Jason Richardson
Devin Searcy
Dorell Wright

Andrew Bynum (knee) out
Kwame Brown (hamstring)  day to day

What to Watch
1.  The battle for the last two roster spots among Dionte Christmas, Jamar Smith, Kris Joseph,  Micah Downs and Rob Kurz. 

2.  The battle for the starting 2 guard and the back up point guard. as well as for the starting power forward spot. 

3.  The chemistry among different lineups.

4. Progress in covering the pick and roll on defense.  

Players to Watch
Jared Sullinger - Sully has been exciting to watch so far.  He has a knack for snagging rebounds and has some good post moves.  He also is a smart player.  Will he win the starting 4 spot?    His progress will be fun to watch.

Dionte Christmas vs Jamar Smith - The 15th spot is going to boil down to one of these two players.  Doc has been giving both opportunity to run the reserve unit. So far, Christmas has been the better all around player but expect Doc to continue to give Smith the chance to earn the spot. 

Jeff Green - So far, Jeff Green has been earning comparisons to James Worthy and has Celtics fans excited for what's to come.  He is just in his 5th game back after a year off for heart surgery and he can only get better.

Darko Milicic - Darko's play has been eye opening for many Celtics' fans.  He has proved to be an excellent passer, with Doc even using him as a point-center in one game.  He has been filling the role of defender/rebounder/enforcer so far very well.  The knock on him is that he fades as the games go on.  Hopefully now that he has found a role that fits his skills we will see only improvement as he learns the system.