NBA: Boston Celtics at Philadelphia 76ers Preview, Picks, Odds Print
Written by Anthony Rome   
Wednesday, 05 December 2007 03:03
NBA Headline News

Celtics Rolling Along

The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers are at opposite ends of the spectrum.

They meet in Philadelphia Wednesday with the 14-2 Celtics off to their best start in 22 years and the Sixers in the midst of a front-office shakeup following another subpar start.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Boston –9.5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 180 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 96% of bets for this game have been placed on Boston –9.5 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

Philadelphia (5-12) fired team president and general manager Billy King Tuesday, and will play its first game under new GM Ed Stefanski Wednesday, hoping to snap Boston's three-game winning streak and avoid its own three-game skid.

King, who was in the final year of his contract, spent more than nine seasons as GM and was questioned for such moves as trading point guard Allen Iverson, acquiring veteran forward Chris Webber and giving contract extensions to some of Philadelphia's unproven young players.

He's replaced by Stefanski, who had been GM of the New Jersey Nets since 2004. Stefanski is a Philadelphia native who played college basketball at Penn.

"We have a good plan in place, but we needed a fresh approach in the leadership of the franchise," Sixers chairman Ed Snider said.

Philadelphia has missed the playoffs three of the past four seasons, and is off to its second straight poor start. Last season, the Sixers opened 5-19 before finishing 35-47.

They lost 88-79 to Atlanta at home Monday night despite a season-high 23 points from guard Willie Green, and are 3-6 at the Wachovia Center this season. They're averaging just 90.8 points per game - among the fewest in the NBA and the worst for a Philadelphia team since the 2003-04 squad that went 33-49.

"We've got to find a way to put the ball in the hoop," reserve forward Kyle Korver said. "We're just not able to get good shots."

Celtics stars Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen all average more points than Sixers leading scorer Andre Iguodala (17.7), whom King failed to sign to a contract extension before the season.

The trio has helped the Celtics to their best 16-game start since they also began the 1985-86 season 14-2. Boston finished 67-15 that season and won the most recent of its 16 NBA titles. Last season, Boston earned its 14th win in its 56th game on Feb. 26.

Both Garnett (2-of-12 shooting) and Pierce (season-low seven points) looked sluggish in an 80-70 home win over the Cleveland Cavaliers Sunday, when the Celtics scored 11 fewer points than they had in any game this season.

It was Boston's third game in four days, and it had a rare early afternoon start.

"We just didn't have the energy we normally come out with," Pierce said.

But Allen, who had shot 3-of-17 from the field in a 95-85 win at Miami Friday, had 20 points and Boston's NBA-best defense held the LeBron James-less Cavs to just 11 third-quarter points. The Celtics have allowed just 71.3 points over their last three games, and are giving up a league-low 87.4 this season.

Rookie forward Glen Davis scored nine points off the bench Sunday for Boston, and has made 11 of his last 14 field-goal attempts. He's averaging 10.0 points in his last three games.

The Celtics have lost three in a row to the Sixers, but split the teams' two meetings at the Wachovia Center last season.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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