Things to Watch: Sixers versus Celtics
The Sixers kick off a two-game matchup against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night. This is an opportunity for the Sixers to climb in the standings, as Boston currently sits in the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
Here are three things to watch in the first matchup of these two teams.
With the delayed start to this season, teams have been playing games almost on a nightly basis. This demanding schedule has not allowed teams time to regroup and catch this breath as the first half of this season pushes on.
The Sixers just found themselves in an opportunity where they were able to get off their feet and have some time to breathe for the first time in weeks. After having the matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder postponed on Sunday, the Sixers had three days off between games.
After having to play with a depleted roster, this time off should be a huge benefit for the team. Now that they have had some time to rest and get a team practice in, it will be noteworthy to see what it does for their play on the floor.
Embiid attacking mismatches
One common theme for the Sixers this year has been the elite play of Joel Embiid on both ends of the floor. Early on in this season, the All-Star center has performed at an MVP level.
When these two teams faced off in the first round of the postseason last year, Embiid was a dominant force. Although the Celtics would eventually sweep the Sixers, they had no answer to stopping Embiid.
Seeing Embiid make the most of the size advantage will be a major area to watch in this game. Tristan Thompson is an experienced big man in this league, but he is going to have a tough time slowing Embiid down.
With the Sixers getting most of their roster back, they have almost all of their perimeter shooting threats. This will make it harder for the Celtics to double team Embiid around the rim, allowing him to attack smaller bigs like Thompson and Daniel Theis.
Shake Milton leading the second unit
Since returning after clearing protocol, Shake Milton has been a huge boost for the Sixers. He has had back to back 25+ point performances off the bench, including a 31 point and 7 assist performance against the Heat.
With Marcus Smart being moved to the starting lineup, the Celtics' depth isn't what it used to be. This should allow Milton to continue to be an offensive spark plug for the Sixers off the bench.
Milton has shown that his performance last year was not a fluke. Doc Rivers has allowed him to lead this second unit, and he has done a great job doing so.
When the Sixers were fully healthy, the second unit impressed just as much as the starters at times. This a matchup where Milton should keep his foot on the gas. Boston's second unit is young and depleted, which should create a lot of mismatches for the potential Sixth Man of the Year.