Boston Celtics (-2.5) vs. Philadelphia 76ers – Wells Fargo Center – 8 pm (ET)
The Boston Celtics narrowly walked away with the victory against the Philadelphia 76ers in their opening preseason game after a strong showing in the fourth quarter. The following night, the Celtics heavily rotated their lineup, leaving all the big names with a night off to rest, resulting in a close loss against the Knicks – but the team’s depth absolutely proved its worth in the process.
Can the Celtics go 2-0 against their Eastern rivals, and 2-1 overall as we reach the midway point of their preseason campaign?
The headline so far during these first two preseason games has been the freshly-extended Payton Pritchard, who in his first two games has put up an incredible 47 points, five rebounds, nine assists, and four steals – all while maintaining a consistent 55% from the field, 45% from beyond the arc and 100% from the free throw line. Will Pritchard get starting minutes? And can he maintain this stellar form?
It’s hard to know if Pritchard will get the start against the Sixers because, even though he made a start in their Monday night clash with the Knicks, and has performed exceptionally overall, all the usual names got a rest during that game and I’m expecting most of those names make the starting five.
Jrue Holiday didn’t make a start in either of the preseason games so far but got 21 minutes off the bench against the Sixers in their first preseason clash. Since Holiday didn’t start against Philadelphia and was one of the players who got a rest on Monday night’s clash with the Knicks, I don’t expect his name to be left out of the starting five this time around — and I predict he will get the start ahead of Pritchard.
I think it’s time to really see what Holiday can do in Beantown Green. We got glimpses of what Holiday can do on the court and I know I’m not the only one who is dying to see more.
In our second preseason game, we faced the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden with a heavily rotated side. I predicted a few changes to the lineup but didn’t anticipate the extent of the rotation.
Even with such a heavily rotated side, the Celtics made life difficult for the Knicks, but eventually lost the game 114-107. Even though the game ended with a Knicks victory, there were plenty of positives to take away from the game, including the talks of “Celtics don’t have depth” being debunked.
The main standout performer so far has been the already-mentioned Pritchard, but he wasn’t the only one to make a name for himself at Madison Square Garden. Dalano Banton had an expectation game on Monday night, ending the game as the second-highest Celtics scorer with 20 points. His aggression when driving to the basket was unmatched, showing his physicality and fearlessness when attacking the rim. I expect some good minutes from Banton against the 76ers and, although a start is possible, I expect those minutes to come from the bench.
Svi Mykhailiuk also showed many positive signs in his 26 minutes against the Knicks, shooting 5/9 from the field, 55.6%, and 3/7 from beyond the arc, 42.9%. I anticipate Svi getting more minutes in the upcoming game against the Sixers, but I don’t think a start is on the cards for the sharpshooter.
Rookie Jordan Walsh got his first minutes for the Celtics and, although he didn’t have a scoring night like Banton or Svi Mykhailiuk, his defensive determination, which we have all been anticipating, was on full display. Walsh has already won the hearts of Boston fans and I anticipate more minutes coming off the bench against the 76ers. The Celtics definitely got a steal with their 2nd round pick. After his stellar display at the Summer League, and his showing against the Knicks, 38th overall is looking like an absolute steal.
Boston Celtics Predicted Lineup
PG: Jrue Holiday
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Al Horford
C: Kristaps Porzingis
I’m anticipating a similar lineup to the first Sixers preseason clash, with the only change being Holiday getting a starting role ahead of his All-Defensive counterpart, Derrick White.
There is a huge shout for Pritchard to get starting minutes but I think it’s Holiday’s time to get more comfortable with the team, and show why the hype around him is so high.
Will the Philadelphia 76ers make any changes from their preseason-opening loss?
The 76ers gave the Celtics a tightly fought contest on their first preseason encounter, and I expect them to go into this game with the mindset of winning. With that, I’m anticipating a strong starting 5 from the Sixers, but there are still a few questions lingering. Will we see James Harden get minutes? Will Joel Embiid make an appearance?
One thing I wasn’t anticipating when making my predicted lineups for the first matchup was Embiid not making an appearance for the Sixers. Could he have made a difference in their loss to the Celtics? With the game being so close throughout, the reigning MVP could have been a difference-maker.
Embiid has been marked as “Questionable” for the Wednesday rematch with the Celtics. Even though it is still preseason, a loss to an Atlantic Division rival will always sting and, because of that, if available, I’m expecting Embiids’ name to be the first name added to their starting five. If he remains unavailable, I anticipate Paul Reed to make another start for the Sixers.