The Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics will meet Friday night on ESPN in an Atlantic Division clash; the winner will own sole possession of first place.
Boston has won two consecutive games and nine of 14 since the All-Star Break. Conversely, the Sixers have been slumping since before the break. They are 6-12 in their last 18 games and coming off a tough loss to the Knicks on Wednesday.
The Sixers and Celtics last met on March 7, when the Sixers blew the aging Celtics – coming off a game the night before – off the floor. Like their last meeting, the Celtics will again be playing the second game of a back-to-back tonight. I have a feeling they remember that 31-point loss.
Former second overall pick, Evan Turner, played the best game of his young career during the 32-point beatdown of the Celtics on March 7. He finished with 26 points, 9 rebounds and 2 assists. He's cooled off considerably, averaging less than 10 points during his last five games.
A Sixers win would lengthen their division lead over the Celtics to a game and a half. A loss would drop them to second place, half a game behind the Celtics. A second place finish in their division would likely mean the seven seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. The Sixers are currently the four seed. What's the difference between the four seed and seven seed? A first round match-up with the Pacers or Hawks and a match-up with the Miami Heat.
Needless to say, the Sixers need this win, and need to hang on to the division lead if they want to advance past the first round of the Playoffs for the first time since 2003.