Good morning to all and Merry Christmas! Hope you got all of the presents you wanted and also got to spend time with your loved ones. While you are all with your families, the Boston Celtics have a Christmas day matchup on their hands vs. the Philadelphia 76ers.
The 76ers sit at 22-12 while the Celtics are 19-13 so far on the 2018-2019 campaign. The Celtics won their matchup in the first game of the season against the 76ers with a 105-87 win. The Celtics have certainly had their ups and downs this season, from wins over the Bucks, Raptors, and these 76ers, to home losses to the Knicks and Suns. That’s why this matchup is CRUCIAL for the Celtics this year. Here are a few things to look at today.
- Joel Embiid
Let’s not kid ourselves here Celtics fans, this guy Embiid is a PROBLEM. He is averaging 26 points and 13 rebounds a game. The danger with Embiid is that he can shoot from the outside (28% from three point land) and he is a force on the boards, which the Celtics have struggled with at times this season. It’ll be interesting to see how Al Horford matches up with Embiid, especially coming back from injury. Maybe, Horford should force Embiid to shoot 3’s because he doesn’t like shooting them in the first place.
- Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler is now happier in Philadelphia than he ever was in Minnesota. He is averaging 19 points, 3 assists, and 5 rebounds per game. Butler is a matchup nightmare when he gets going. The Celtics will have to have Jaylen Brown and/or Jayson Tatum lock Butler down to make him inefficient.
- Kyrie Irving
The Boston Celtics success starts and ends with Kyrie Irving. When he’s hot, he’s arguably the best point guard in the league. Just ask the Charlotte Hornets based on the other night.
Kyrie is averaging 22 points a game along with 6 assists and 5 rebounds. Imagine if last season, Kyrie was around for game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. How would that have felt, LeBron?! Kyrie needs to take over this game to get the Celtics back on track toward dominating in the Eastern Conference like a lot of analysts predicted in the off-season.
- Marcus Morris
Marcus Morris is having the best season statistically. Morris is averaging 15 points and 6 rebounds a game. Morris has been a difference maker this season and it can be seen by a lot of people.
Morris needs to continue to step up off the bench or in spot starts. Wherever he is, he needs to continue to produce and help guys like Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier elevate their games to another level. Morris will also be able to help out on defense with Embiid as he is big and plays tough.
So there you have it! It is sure to be a tough battle between two up and coming teams. If the Celtics play a very complete game and can get an easy win at home, then I think they progress forward and become the team we were all hoping to see on a consistent basis. The Celtics have one more message for fans around the world.
Let’s hope these holidays are filled with a convincing Celtics win!
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-Alan Nahigian (BigAl2793)