Celtics aim for season-series sweep of Sixers

(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

(AP) -- The rivalry between the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers has been one-sided over the last few years.

Boston, which has defeated Philadelphia in 17 of the last 19 regular-season meetings, has won each of the three encounters in 2018-19 and dispatched its Atlantic Division adversary in five games in the Eastern Conference semifinals last spring.

The Celtics will attempt to complete a season sweep of the 76ers on Wednesday night when the teams meet in Philadelphia.

Although Boston has enjoyed the upper hand in the series, a brash 76ers fan attempted to get under the skin of point guard Terry Rozier after the Celtics fell for just the second time in seven games with a 114-105 setback to Denver on Monday.

When the fan suggested over social media that Philadelphia would get the better of Boston on Wednesday, the 25-year-old Rozier responded that the result hasn't transpired "since they had AI (Hall of Famer Allen Iverson)."

While that's a bit of an exaggeration, the Celtics posted a 105-87 victory over the 76ers in the season opener, humbled their rival in a nationally televised game on Christmas Day and won in Philadelphia last month despite playing without All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving.

Rozier added more fuel to the fire on Tuesday after he was asked the first word that came to mind when the host of FS1's "Fair Game with Kristine Leahy" mentioned Philadelphia's All-Star center Joel Embiid. Rozier's response: "Lame."

"He just (does) a lot of talking," Rozier said, when asked to elaborate. "I respect his on-court game; he just (does) a lot of talking."

Embiid followed his 23-point, 14-rebound performance in a 112-109 setback to Boston on Feb. 12 with a profanity-laced tirade about losing to the Celtics. His words resulted in a $25,000 fine.

The 25-year-old Embiid collected 40 points, 15 rebounds and six assists in Sunday's 130-125 victory over Milwaukee before electing to sit out two days later with the 76ers expected to play on consecutive nights.

"I'm fine not playing back-to-backs," Embiid told Philly.com. "... It was my decision to choose which game I want to play. We got work to do against Boston."

JJ Redick had 27 points and a career-high 10 rebounds as the 76ers won their fifth straight with a 118-114 victory versus Charlotte on Tuesday. He shot 7-for-14 from 3-point range to improve to 22-for-40 from beyond the arc over the last five contests heading into the key tilt with the Celtics.

"It's always a big game when we play Boston. I think psychologically too, we need to figure out how to beat these guys," Redick said.

Ben Simmons scored 28 points on 11-of-12 shooting from the field and fellow guard Jimmy Butler added 23 on Tuesday for Philadelphia, which has already punched its ticket to the postseason and holds a three-game lead over the Celtics.

Although Irving scored 30 points on Monday to reach that mark for the fourth time in five contests, he was quick to point out a flaw in the Celtics' game.

"Our focus level has to be at an even higher level, especially out there when they're running specific plays over and over again and we have schemes that we want to do," Irving said. "We just have to do it at a very high level. In order to win a championship, you have to do that every single time down or as much as you can. The most consistent team usually wins."

Boston forward Gordon Hayward missed the Denver game and has been ruled out against Philadelphia because of a concussion, the team announced Tuesday.

--Field Level Media

Updated March 20, 2019

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