Sixers-Celtics Game 1 preview: Philly must solve Boston's defense

Bucks Celtics Basketball
Celtics point guard Terry Rozier has filled in ably for the injured Kyrie Irving.

76ers at Boston Celtics

Tonight at 8, TD Garden

Talking points

Terry Rozier’s play and the Boston Celtics’ defense are among the things the 76ers must overcome in this playoff series.

Rozier has been Boston’s starting point guard since Kyrie Irving had season-ending left knee surgery on April 7. Rozier is a major reason the Celtics beat Milwaukee in an Eastern Conference quarterfinal. The third-year veteran is averaging 17.6 points, 6.7 assists and 1.1 steals in the playoffs.

“He’s dynamic,” Brett Brown said. “The stuff that they are missing from Kyrie and somebody that can create off a live ball by himself and doesn’t need a pick-and-roll, they do get it with him.

“He really can get into a defense. He’s athletic. He’s tough. I feel like his ability to create his own stuff is healthy given the rest of their players’ skill packages.”

Rozier had 26 points and nine assists in the Game 7 victory over the Bucks.

While he provided an offensive spark, the Celtics defense has been solid. So much so that Sixers swingman JJ Redick calls Boston the best defensive team in the NBA.

“They have great individual defenders,” Redick said. “They have great team concepts.”

The Boston defenders will do their best to force the Sixers into struggling offensively. Their physicality also makes things rough for opponents.  So it will be important for Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli to have solid games for the Sixers off the bench. Robert Covington also needs to make shots.

Meanwhile, the Sixers will have to contain Rozier and stop him from penetrating in the lane.

How to watch and follow the game

Probable starting lineups

Celtics

# Name Pos. Ht. PPG RPG/APG
0 Jayson Tatum SF 6-8 15.4 5.3 RPG
37 Semi Ojeleye PF 6-7 2.1 2.9 RPG
42 Al Horford C 6-10 18.1 8.7 RPG
36 Marcus Smart SG 6-4 6.7 3.7 RPG
12 Terry Rozier III PG 6-1 17.6 6.7 APG

Coach: Brad Stevens (playoff record: 15-20)

Injury report: Jaylen Brown, right hamstring strain, doubtful.

Sixers 

# Name Pos. Ht. PPG RPG/APG
33 Robert Covington SF 6-9 9.4 5.6 RPG
9 Dario Saric PF 6-10 16.6 6.8 RPG
21 Joel Embiid C 7-2 18.7 10.3 PRG
17 JJ Redick SG 6-4 20.0 2.6 APG
25 Ben Simmons PG 6-10 18.2 10.6 RPG, 9.0 APG

 

Coach: Brett Brown (playoff record: 4-1)

Injury report: None

Upcoming games

Thursday: Game 2, 8:30 p.m. at TD Garden

Saturday: Game 3, 5 p.m., at Wells Fargo Center

May 7: Game 4, 8: 6 p.m. at Wells Fargo Center

May 9: *Game 5, TBD, at TD Garden

May 11: Game 6,  TBD, at Wells Fargo Center

May 13: *Game 7, TBD, at TD Garden

* – if necessary