By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It’s gone from, “the Atlantic lead is safe,” to “the Celtics are inching closer,” to “the Celtics are here,” for the Sixers. With their win over the Charlotte Bobcats last night, the Boston Celtics tied the Sixers for the lead in the NBA’s Atlantic Division. That means if the Sixers lose tonight, they will surrender the lead in the Atlantic for the first time since the first week of the season.
“The thing to remember is that the Sixers do hold the tie-breaker over the Celtics,” Sixers play by play broadcaster Marc Zumoff told KYW 1060’s Matt Leon. “The question is, what are your issues, and what do you have to do to right them? I think they’ve got a number of issues. I think in some ways the schedule is catching up with them. Let’s be frank, they had an easy schedule earlier in the year.”
The Sixers (27-22) come into the game 7-13 in their last 20, including a loss Sunday night in San Antonio. The Sixers turned the ball over 19 times, almost nine more than their season average. They also had trouble defending the pick and roll, which has been a problem for them all season long. Tim Duncan missed the game for the Spurs, and Andre Iguodala didn’t play for the Sixers.
Iguodala has been suffering from the ill-effects of chondromalacia in his knee, which caused him to miss 15 games last season. Iguodala said he was as healthy as he’s been in a long time to start this season, but said the knee began to bother him again about two weeks ago. He’s suffered from knee problems on and off for his entire career, and will most likely be dealing with them for the remainder of it. Iguodala is officially listed as doubtful, and will be a game time decision.
The Cavs (17-29) come into tonight’s game losers of three in a row, but a different team than the Sixers beat 99-84 in February. The biggest reason for that difference is the play of likely rookie of the year Kyrie Irving, who sat out their last match-up with the Sixers with post-concussion symptoms. Irving is leading the team in scoring and assists, and been compared to players like Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant by former NBA head coach Jeff Van Gundy.
There are still tickets available for the game at sixers.com, and it can be heard live at 7pm on 94WIP.
Listen to KYW’s Matt Leon’s talk with Marc Zumoff: