NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, March 5th (All times Eastern)
Boston Celtics (31-27) at Philadelphia 76ers (23-35), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Boston Celtics will carry a two-game winning streak into Philadelphia Tuesday night when they meet their long-time rivals, the 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Celtics finished off a five-game western trip with a win in Utah last Monday, then came returned on Friday and toppled the Golden State Warriors, 94-86.
Boston's defense was stout in the second half against the Warriors, allowing Golden State just 40 points in the last two frames. They held the potent Warriors' offense to shoot just 34 percent and 22 percent from long range.
Paul Pierce led the way with 26 points and Jeff Green chipped in 18 off the bench. No other Celtics player scored in double figures.
Only 24 games remain on the Celtics schedule and they are comfortably in the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference. They currently occupy the seventh seed, but are only one game ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks, who are in the eighth and final spot.
As close as the race at the bottom is, the Celtics are only two games out of the fourth seed in the East and 5 1/2 behind the New York Knicks for the Atlantic Division lead.
"We have to understand that this is the stretch run of the season and every game at this point is a huge game for us because it could be the difference between the eighth seed and the fourth seed," Pierce said before Monday's practice. "Coming down the stretch, it's important that we play our best possible basketball right now with a sense of urgency."
The Sixers playoff dreams are faint at best. They also have 24 games remaining on the docket, but trail the Bucks by seven games for that final spot in the postseason.
Philly has dropped eight of its last nine and things have gotten ugly. Head coach Doug Collins suffered a mini meltdown about his team's effort one week ago after an awful home loss to the Orlando Magic.
Andrew Bynum, who was brought into the organization in an offseason blockbuster, hasn't played a minute and admitted on Friday that he might not be able to go all season. General Manager Tony DiLeo even hinted on Sunday that arthroscopic surgery was an option.
So, all-around, the 2012-13 season has been a disaster, but there are still lessons to be learned.
"We still have a lot of young players who continue to grow," said Collins. "You're trying to continue to teach your team to stay positive, keep your spirits up, keep competing. I thought we've done that. Yeah, we had the one blip against Orlando. You've got to stay true to your teaching."
The Sixers let one slip on Sunday night in Washington against the Wizards. John Wall scored the game's final six points to polish off a 90-87 comeback victory.
Dorell Wright paced the 76ers with 15 points off the bench. Thaddeus Young, Jrue Holiday and Spencer Hawes each had 14 and Evan Turner added 11 and 10 rebounds.
Nick Young will miss the game with a sprained ankle.
The Sixers have won two of three this season against the Celtics and are 4-2 in their last six regular-season meetings. Boston has dropped its last four in Philly during the regular season.
03/05 10:33:01 ET