The Boston Celtics look to extend their 13-game winning streak as they battle the Philadelphia 76ers, whom they almost fell victom to earlier this season. Boston looks to extend their NBA best winning streak to 14 as they have struggling 76ers team coming to town with a 45-point defeat hanging over their heads.
The Celtics (22-4) have yet to be tested in their 13-game winning streak, winning by more than five points all but three times during their streak. But on of those three teams was the 76ers, whom Boston narrowly escaped following a Kevin Garnett alley-oop pass from Rajon Rondo.
However, the Celtics will be without Rondo this time as he continues to be sidelined after the ankle injury he sustained in Boston's 118-116 victory over the New York Knicks last week. Nate Robinson will once again get the start at point guard, with guards Marquis Daniels and Avery Bradley getting some extra minutes as backups. Robinson scored 18 points in Boston's victory over Indiana earlier this week.
There could be good injury related news for the Celtics as center Jermaine O'Neal has been given a 50-50 chance to play tonight. O'Neal, sustained a knee injury just seven games into the season, which has forced Shaquille O'Neal into the starting center role, and rookie Semih Erden into the backup role. Shaq appears to be healthy, however Erden is playing significant minutes with a shoulder pain. Erden and coach Doc Rivers would certainly welcome a Jermaine O'Neal return to spare the injured Erden of minutes at center.
Paul Pierce hopes to continue his red-hot play as well after his triple-double performance in Boston's 99-88 win over the Indiana Pacers. Pierce recorded 18 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists to lead the team over a sub-par Pacers team. Pierce has been distributing the ball well of late as he has 22 assists in his last two games which has helped Boston keep it's top spot as the NBA's best at distributing the ball (25.8 APG).
With the absence of Rondo, Celtics coach Doc Rivers has allowed Pierce to simply step into Rondo's shoes as the primary assist man:
"We're putting (Pierce) in Rondo's spot, and making him the facilitator," coach Doc Rivers said. "With this team, especially with the injuries we have, he's been a great utility guy."
The 76ers and the Celtics tip-off at 7:30 p.m. EST. at the TD Banknorth Garden.