Feels like deja vu, doesn't it? With first place in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference on the line, the Boston Celtics will head to the City of Brotherly Love to face the division rival Philadelphia 76ers at 8 p.m. EDT on Friday night at Wells Fargo Center (TV/Radio: ESPN/WEEI).
Of course, this isn't the first time the Celtics are heading to Philly with first place within their grasp. Boston trailed Philadelphia by one game entering the two team's game on March 7. Most expected the Celtics to at least show up, but they couldn't even do that, falling hard in a 103-71 loss to remain in second place.
Flat and disheveled, the Celtics fell behind quickly and trailed 33-17 after one quarter. The most points the Celtics scored in a quarter was 20 (in the third quarter), and they finished 0-for-8 from three-point range. Paul Pierce scored 16, Brandon bass added 12 points and Rajon Rondo had five points. Evan Turner had a breakout game, scoring a career-high 26 to pace Philadelphia, which shot 48.3 percent and out-rebounded Boston by nineteen (54-35).
But here we are, nearly one month later, and not much has changed. The Celtics still have a shot to pass the Sixers for the division lead, even if they lose on Friday. Don't be fooled -- winning the division matters, considering that it guarantees a top four seed in the East. That would mean avoiding a first-round playoff matchup with the Chicago Bulls or Miami Heat.
The Celtics are entering their final game of an eight-game road trip that featured five games on the West coast. The Celtics are 4-3 on the trek and have won two in a row against the Atlanta Hawks on Monday and the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday. Pierce scored 25 and had nine rebounds to lead Boston, which shot 48.3 percent. Kevin Garnett had 16 points and 10 rebounds and Mickael Pietrus drained three treys and haf 13 points off the bench.
Boston returns home on Sunday to host the Washington Wizards inside TD Garden.