After earning a strange, roundabout victory at home Wednesday night over the Wizards, the Sixers are in Boston tonight and they're undermanned.
Joel Embiid will sit in the second game of a back-to-back. This is only the Sixers' second back-to-back set of the season — the NBA lengthened the schedule this year to reduce back-to-backs and situations where teams played four games in five nights.
The last time the Sixers sat Embiid as part of a back-to-back, they were destroyed in Toronto 128-94, their largest loss of the season.
In addition to missing Embiid, the Sixers will also be without backup point guard T.J. McConnell, who won't play after suffering a left shoulder contusion Wednesday night.
Brett Brown said after the Wizards game that in a "twisted way," he's looking forward to seeing how an undermanned Sixers team measures up against the 18-4 Celtics.
"We'll go to Boston without Jo and T.J. and we'll fight," he said.
McConnell had been rolling before getting hurt against the Wizards, averaging 11.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 6.0 assists over his last four games while shooting 61 percent from the field and 3 for 4 from three.
With McConnell out, it would ordinarily be expected for floor general Ben Simmons to play additional minutes. But keep in mind that Simmons played a career-high 41 minutes last night and was questionable heading into that game with a sprained ankle.
Jerryd Bayless (14 points, four assists in 26 minutes vs. Washington) should see an uptick in playing time.
The last time the Sixers played the Celtics — a 102-92 loss on Oct. 20 — Embiid had 11 points and 14 rebounds but shot just 4 of 16 from the field and 0 for 6 from three. The Sixers shot just 38 percent that night against Boston's top-rated defense. (The Celtics have a defensive rating of 98.3, which is a full point better than the next-best team, the Blazers.)
It could still be a game, though, even with Embiid and McConnell out. The Celtics own the NBA's best record but have lost two of their last four games. As of Wednesday morning, the Celtics were favored by nine points. Boston hasn't played since losing to Detroit at home on Monday.