The Sixers (26-21) lead the Boston Celtics (25-21) by just a half game in the Atlantic Division standings, which gives tonight’s game at the Wells Fargo Center even greater importance than usual.
And of the utmost importance is for the Sixers to get out of the gates in a much quicker fashion than their last two home games.
That was the take of Doug Collins who pointed out after this morning’s shootaround how the passive starts the last two home games have put the Sixers in a hole they were never able to climb out of.
Last Friday the Sixers trailed Miami, 31-18 after the first quarter and would eventually trail by 29 before losing 84-78.
On Wednesday, the Sixers opened the game 0 for 14 from the field, and trailed 19-11 after the first quarter in an 82-79 loss to the New York Knicks.
“The last couple of home games we have not been the aggressors,” Collins said. “We came out early and allowed Miami and New York to get into us early.”
Boston is playing the eighth and final game of its current road trip and won 100-91 at Milwaukee on Thursday. So the Sixers don’t want an aging but still talented team, to get going right away.
“I would like to see us more aggressive starting the game,” Collins said. “We dug holes against both teams and it is important that we come out with an aggressive mindset tonight.”
The Sixers beat the visiting Celtics in their first meeting. Actually, they crushed the Celtics, 103-71 on March 7.
And while Boston may be tired at the end of this current road trip, the Celtics might have some extra incentive. That 32-point loss was the worst of the five-year era that Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce have been together.
“This is not the same team we saw here last time,” Collins said.
The Sixers coach pointed out how Boston had won a 97-92 overtime game the previous night at home against the Houston Rockets before facing the Sixers the last time.
“They were a very tired team and we jumped on them and they will remember that,” Collins said. “…This is their eighth road game and they have played very well.”