First place is on the line. These two teams play different styles – the Sixers like to run up and down (though they are mostly unsuccessful with this, according to pace measures), while the Celtics prefer a slower game and being physical on both ends of the floor. Can the Sixers step up their intensity level, or will they crack under pressure like they have recently? Will there be pushing and shoving? Will Kevin Garnett, like usual, get in the face of someone like Nikola Vucevic, or will he aim high for Thaddeus Young? Will one team figuratively punch the other in the mouth? Will one team member literally punch another player in the mouth? The possibilities are endless.
2. Evan Turner
Doug Collins made up a sad excuse as to why Evan Turner wasn’t the focal point of the offense over the last week – he said that Evan had not rebounded well enough to create offense. He is correct in saying that Turner’s scoring push came when he rebounded strongly as well. However, that doesn’t mean there was a gameplan change. Turner’s role in the halfcourt offense recently has been “stand in a corner” – as he cannot be useful given his physical abilities in this position, this should change. Will it? I hope so, otherwise we’ll be playing 4-on-5.
3. Boston’s thin bench
When Ryan Hollins makes sense as an in-season pickup, you know things aren’t going well. He fits as the sixth big. But as an expected rotation player? Ew.
We all know about their Big 3, as well as the player also on the team that arguably is better than all of them. But after those four, there’s little to be desired. Boston’s bench is an eclectic group with players that have some talent but fit oddly or are playing more than what their talents would dictate, mainly due to injuries. Mickael Pietrus is a good defender but is erratic on the offensive end, especially with his shot selection. Avery Bradley is a tremendous defensive talent as well, but his offensive arsenal consists of a 20 foot jumper. Keyon Dooling is still in the league, and can knock down an open shot. Greg Stiemsma is interesting, a good shot blocker but not much else.
The Sixers bench is much better, though the advantage the Sixers have here could be mitigated if the rotation continues to be cut short. Also, apparently Tony Battie might play over Vooch tonight. I give up.