BOSTON — Justin Anderson could be an X-factor for the 76ers.
The reserve swingman brings a physicality that has been missing from the Sixers in the first two games of their Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Boston Celtics.
“Having to sit and watch it was tough obviously, but I have to wait until my number is called,” Anderson said 30 minutes after Thursday night’s 108-103 Game 2 loss at TD Garden.
A team player, the third-year veteran hasn’t complained about his lack of involvement. He didn’t play on Thursday after only being on the floor for 5 minutes, 16 seconds in Monday’s 117-101 Game 1 loss.
The Sixers shrunk their rotation to nine players on Thursday. As result, backup point guard T.J. McConnell and reserve shooting guard Marco Belinelli were the only non-starting perimeter players to see action. One of the league’s top sharpshooters, it’s hard to argue against playing Belinelli.
However, the defensive presence that Anderson provides was missing. As a result, the Celtics guards and swingmen have been taking advantage of the mismatches.
Like his teammates, he’s interested to see the adjustments made for Game 3.
“I’m going to give it some time, walk away, let everybody breathe for a second,” he said. “Look at the film and see what we could have done better. Look at the game. Watch the game again.
“But the biggest thing for me … it was a hard-fought game. I just want to be able to be out there and be physical for us,” Anderson said, “and do what I do best I guess.”
The 24-year-old is averaging 1.6 points, 1.8 rebounds and 5.8 minutes in five postseason performances. His best game came in Game 3 of the conference quarterfinal against the Miami Heat. Anderson scored six points on 2-for-3 shooting — all three-point attempts — to go with four rebounds in 9:18 of action. He also frustrated Dwyane Wade, setting the tone in an important victory.