Rajon Rondo posted 16 points, 14 assists, and 13 rebounds, but the Celtics still lost at the hands of the Philadelphia 76ers in overtime last night. Boston will not have to wait long to exact revenge though. Both teams travel to the the TD Garden for a rematch tonight.
Ranking first on the Celtics’ agenda will be slowing down Evan Turner, whose late shot in overtime put Philadelphia up 95-94. That would ultimately prove to be the game-winning shot. Turner scored 26 points, matching his season-high. The former second pick in the 2010 NBA draft has now scored a combined 51 points in two meetings with Boston.
Paul Pierce will have the greatest responsibility of containing Turner. Pierce himself had 27 points but struggled shooting. He shot a miserable 37.5 percent from the floor, including seven missed 3-pointers. Pierce also turned the ball over four times. His offensive efficiency must improve for the Celtics’ to threaten for a championship.
Yesterday’s point guard matchup did not disappoint, with both Rondo and Jrue Holiday performing well. This again should be an area to focus on. Rondo is averaging 12.9 assists per game, good for first in the NBA. Holiday slightly trails him with 9 apg, placing him third.
With yesterday’s game venturing into overtime, fatigue may become an issue. Seven players played more than 40 minutes. The heavy workload means each team’s bench should see an increased role.
Part of the Celtics’bench is Jeff Green, who is finally developing some consistency. The forward scored 19 points in the defeat, including several clutch 3-pointers down the stretch. He has now scored at least 18 points in three of his last four games.
At the root of the Celtics’ problems last night were turnovers. Boston had 18 of them, allowing the 76ers to keep the game close despite several scoring droughts in the second-half. Doc Rivers will look for his team to do a better job of protecting the ball.
Rebounding has also been an issue all season. The Celtics lost the the battle of the boards by only one, but allowed Philadelphia to grab 17 offensive rebounds. If the 76ers are able to capitalize on second chance opportunities again, Boston will face an uphill climb for a victory.
The 76ers are now 2-0 against the Celtics this season. A loss tonight would drop Boston to 10-10, putting them well behind division leader New York.
After tonight’s game Boston will be off until Dec. 12, when they welcome the Dallas Mavericks (9-10) to town.