Wednesday, March 29, 2023

NBA Preview: Philadelphia Sixers (34-18) at Boston Celtics (38-16)

The Philadelphia 76ers will be on the road with an opportunity to gain ground on the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference standings when the teams meet Wednesday night.

Boston maintained sole possession of first place in the conference by beating the Detroit Pistons 111-99 Monday. The Celtics are a game ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks and three games ahead of Philadelphia, which is alone in third place.

Philadelphia’s eight-game winning streak away from home ended Sunday after the New York Knicks overcame an early 21-point deficit to earn a 108-97 victory. Joel Embiid had 31 points and 14 rebounds for the 76ers in the loss. He made 18 of 19 free-throw attempts.

Philadelphia has won nine of its last 11 games but also surrendered a 21-point lead in a 119-109 loss to Orlando on Jan. 30.

The Knicks trailed by 21 in the first quarter, but were within two points, 53-51, at halftime. The 76ers led 79-76 entering the fourth.

Boston was without Jaylen Brown (illness), Marcus Smart (ankle) and Luke Kornet (ankle) for Monday’s victory over Detroit. Boston’s Jayson Tatum scored 18 of his game-high 34 points in the third quarter of that victory, which helped the Celtics extend a seven-point halftime lead to 18 points after three quarters.

Sam Hauser made the first start of his NBA career in place of Brown, who is averaging 27.0 points per game this season. Hauser scored all 15 points in the first half, when he sank five 3-pointers.

Boston had lost four of its last six games.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, 76ers guard Furkan Korkmaz recently informed the team he would like to be traded. Korkmaz, a career 35.4 percent shooter from 3-point range, hasn’t played in nine of Philadelphia’s last 12 games.

Wednesday’s matchup will be the second game between the Celtics and 76ers this season. Tatum and Brown each tossed in 35 points when Boston opened the season with a 126-117 home victory over Philadelphia.

James Harden had 25 points in a losing effort for Philadelphia. Harden made five 3-pointers. The 76ers also received 26 points and 15 rebounds from Embiid, and 21 points from Tyrese Maxey.

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