(Sports Network) - A disastrous stretch by Philadelphia has the Boston Celtics
poised to take full control of the Atlantic Division when the two historic
rivals meet in Beantown on Easter Sunday.
The Sixers started the season 20-9 but have gone just 9-17 since and are now
teetering on the brink after another setback against Orlando on Saturday. That
coupled with Boston's win at Indiana gave the Celtics a season-high two-game
lead in the Atlantic.
Dwight Howard scored 20 points and pulled down 22 rebounds and the Magic
avoided their first six-game losing streak in more than six years with an
88-82 win over the 76ers.
None of the five Sixers starters scored in double digits. Thaddeus Young had a
team-high 20 points and Jodie Meeks scored 11 of his 16 during a big run in
the first half that gave Philadelphia a 10-point lead. But the Sixers faltered
down the stretch again and dropped their third straight.
Embattled coach Doug Collins hinted changes may be coming to his struggling
"We can't keep digging ourselves a hole like that, just can't do it," the
Philadelphia, which once looked like a lock to make the postseason is now
anything but, leading the eighth seed in the East, New York, by one game and
No. 9 Milwaukee by 1 1/2.
To make matters even worse for the sinking Sixers, nine of their last 11 games
are on the road, where they are 10-14 on the season.
Boston, meanwhile, took a huge stop toward securing its fifth straight
Atlantic crown by stifling the Pacers, 86-72, in Indianapolis on Saturday.
Paul Pierce scored 24 points in that one as the Celtics cruised to the
Ray Allen came off the bench and netted 19 points, while Kevin Garnett
registered 15 points and seven rebounds for Boston, which snapped a
two-game skid with their sixth win in eight tries.
"I loved how competitive we were," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "In a game
where shots are not going in and we still won the game, that means you can
trust your defense on nights your offense doesn't work."
The Sixers have topped Boston twice in the City of Brotherly Love this season
but have lost in five of their last six visits to Beantown.
The Sports Network