December 10, 2023

What to watch as 76ers start up a new road trip and try to sweep the season series against Celtics


Photo by Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

The 34-16 Philadelphia 76ers can sweep their season series against the 25-25 Boston Celtics with a win Tuesday night in Boston. 

Back on the road

The Sixers didn’t have much time at home after their six-game road trip that ended last Thursday in Cleveland. All they had was weekend back in Philly. Tuesday is the start of a four-game road trip that also includes matchups with the New Orleans Pelicans, Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Dallas Mavericks. 

“It’s very tough,” Dwight Howard said Sunday night. “I would say we were homesick on the road. We really wanted to come back and be in Philly. We missed being home, we missed being with our families and we missed coming to the games and seeing you guys. It’s very tough mentally, being on the road, coming back home and then leaving right back out. But we’re blessed, we’re going to stay positive and try to win as many games as we can.”

11 of the Sixers’ final 18 games will be at Wells Fargo Center. They’ll have a four-game homestand immediately after this trip against some high-profile opponents in the Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Clippers, Goldan State Warriors, and the Phenix Suns. 

Celtics without sixth-man

The Celtics added Evan Fournier, Moe Wagner, and Luke Kornet before the trade deadline.

Fournier won’t be available Tuesday, though, as the Celtics announced he’s out due to health and safety protocols. 

COVID-19 also had a significant impact on this year’s first two games between the Sixers and Celtics. Two-time All-Star Jayson Tatum wasn’t part of either of those matchups after testing positive. Robert Williams tested positive for COVID-19 in January and didn’t play in the Jan. 20 game. 

Williams now the Celtics’ starting center and has remained efficient with increased minutes. Fellow big man Tristan Thompson (post health and safety protocols reconditioning) is also out.

For the Sixers, George Hill is still sidelined as he rehabs following right thumb surgery in February. Tyrese Maxey, who missed Sunday’s game due to an inconclusive COVID-19 test, is available. He was cleared to travel with the Sixers to Boston after he received two consecutive negative tests.

Embiid attempts get back and comfortable

Joel Embiid sat out the Sixers’ loss Sunday to the Memphis Grizzlies, with the Sixers holding him out on the second night of a back-to-back. He’s expected to play against Boston.

Embiid was excellent in the season’s two previous Sixers-Celtics games, totaling 80 points on 35 field-goal attempts and 21 rebounds. 

Williams is a talented shot blocker but has a very tough assignment on his hands. Though Embiid said he was irritated by his knee brace and didn’t think he played well Saturday vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves in his return from a 10-game absence with a left knee bone bruise, his ability to draw fouls was certainly intact. He took 17 free throws in 28 minutes. Embiid should like the idea of getting Williams in foul trouble and facing players like Kornet and Grant Williams.  


When: 7:30 P.M. E.S.T.

Where: TD Garden

Broadcast: TNT, NBC Sports Philadelphia +

Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic

Social media coverage: Philly Sports Reports’ Twitter & Instagram.

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