Celtics-Sixers preview: Working in the new guys

Celtics-Sixers preview: Working in the new guys
March 5, 2013, 9:45 am
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PHILADELPHIA -- Doc Rivers readily admits that it has taken his team of veterans longer to play the kind of basketball he envisioned so he's being realistic about his expectations for the team's quartet of relatively young newcomers to the roster within the last couple of weeks.

"It's a challenge because they're not veterans," Rivers said. "They're trying to find their own way; forget about finding the Celtics way. So it is a challenge. If we're successful with one or two of them figuring it out, I'll be very happy."

Of the four newcomers -- Jordan Crawford, Terrence Williams, D.J. White and Shavlik Randolph -- Crawford appears to have the best shot of helping the C's immediately. Acquired from Washington in exchange for Leandro Barbosa and Jason Collins, Crawford has seen action in all four games for the C's since the Feb. 21 trade. In those four games, he has averaged four points and three rebounds on 33 percent shooting (7-for-21) while playing 12.8 minutes per game.

And while his shot selection has always been questionable, Rivers seems pleased with what he has seen thus far from the third-year guard.

"I want him to be aggressive," Rivers said recently. "We're like looking for him to make a bad offensive play."

Throughout the course of every game, there's a very good chance that Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett will make poor plays offensively, Rivers contends.

"Offensive players are going to make a couple of bad offensive plays," Rivers said. "I want him to stay aggressive. I don't want to take away what he can do."

The C's face a free-failling Philadelphia team that has lost eight of its last nine games. If the C's can prolong the Sixers' struggles with a fast start, that might afford extended minutes for some of the new guys like Crawford.

Here are some keys to watch in tonight's game.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: It seems Philadelphia's biggest weakness (scoring the ball) this season is exactly what has become the Celtics' greatest strength. The Sixers are next-to-last in the NBA in scoring this season with 92 points per game. The C's are allowing opponents to score 95.9 points per game which ranks ninth in the league.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Avery Bradley vs Jrue Holiday. Never an off night for Bradley, Holiday has been the one bright spot for the Sixers this season. His 19.1 points and 8.5 assists per game this season stacks him up quite favorably with the league's top playmakers this season.

PLAYER TO WATCH: One of Jeff Green's first breakout performances on the road this season came at Philadelphia in December when he had 19 points and eight rebounds off the bench. Boston will look for Green to continue his strong play of late which includes double-digit scoring in 13 of the C's last 16 games.

STAT TO TRACK: While it's not necessarily a major part of their game, Philadelphia's 3-point shooting often dictates how they perform. This season, they are 4-22 when they shoot a lower 3-point percentage than their opponent. Meanwhile, the C's are a solid 18-8 this season when they shoot a higher percentage on threes than their opponent.