The Sixers are 14-31. The Celtics are 15-32. The two meet tonight for the first of four meetings. They are both rebuilding franchises with first-time NBA head coaches in Brett Brown and Brad Stevens.
Here is a look at the matchup in 3-dei.
1) Catch me if you can
Coach Brown doesn't put much stock in back-to-back games being an advantage for the team that is resting the night before. Still the Celtics got drilled by the Knicks on the road last night, 114-88, and on the season they are 3-8 on the second night of back-to-backs.
The Sixers had Tuesday night off.
Couple that with the fact that Boston had a horrible start to last night's game -- they were outscored 31-15 -- and the formula for the Sixers' success should be to get off to a fast start, push the pace and leave the Celtics in the rearview mirror.
2) This is my hometown
Michael Carter-Williams was looking forward to playing against Rajon Rondo, having watched the eight year Celtic veteran when he was growing up in Hamilton, Massachusetts (see story), 40 minutes outside Boston. That day is probably going to have to wait for a later day because Rondo is not playing back-to-back games at this stage of his comeback from ACL surgery.
With Rondo likely sidelined, Avery Bradley is the listed starting point guard, but he is more a shooting guard. The Celtics average less then 20 assists per game, second fewest in the NBA. Rondo's absence impacts that number greatly; in each of the previous three seasons Rondo has averaged more then 11 assists per game.
Bother the Celts when they are trying to share the basketball. MCW can lead the way by getting in passing lanes. He is third in the NBA with 2.41 steals and the Sixers as a team are also third with 9.1 per contest.
3) Be on the defensive
The Sixers' defense has to be better then what it's shown the past couple games. The Sixers allowed 40 first quarter points to the Suns and watched the Thunder shoot 52.6 percent from the floor for the game.
Boston averages the fourth fewest points (94.6) in the league, and its field-goal percentage is fifth lowest (43.6). It is imperative the Sixers keep them there.