It’s been 158 days since the Sixers lost to the Miami Heat in the postseason, and the team is finally back with a revamped squad. They’ll test their new additions in what looks to be a competitive matchup against the Eastern Conference Champion Boston Celtics.
The Celtics are coming off a roller coaster of an offseason after head coach Ime Udoka was suspended for the entire season for “multiple team policy violations.” Not to mention that the injury bug caught them early, as they’ll be without Robert Williams III and new addition Danilo Gallinari.
Even with all the above details, the Celtics are a formidable opponent that got better on paper this offseason. Malcolm Brogdon is now their sixth man which puts their improved depth into perspective. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown’s length and athleticism will be a legit test for the Sixers’ revamped defense. P.J. Tucker and Tobias Harris will likely be tasked defensively on both of Bostons’ star players for the majority of the game.
We’ll also get a new edition of Joel Embiid vs. Al Horford. There’s an argument to be made that Horford is the best Embiid defender in the NBA right now, even at his advanced age. The Celtics will likely shadow the majority of Embiid minutes with Horford, as the options behind him are lackluster at best without Rob Williams (Blake Griffin, maybe Grant Williams?).
The Celtics have all the pieces to be a good defensive team, and it’ll put the Sixers’ offense to the test. It’ll be an excellent early temperature check on James Harden, who will be guarded by Boston’s abundance of perimeter defenders — Tatum, Brown, Marcus Smart, Grant Williams, Brogdon, etc.
We’ll also get a chance to see the Sixers’ regular rotation in action for the first time. There will be some big decisions to make as the weeks fly by. Will we see any of Furkan Korkmaz or Matisse Thybulle? Will Doc Rivers opt for Montrezl Harrell or Paul Reed behind Embiid? Will they go with neither, and play small? How much on-ball usage will De’Anthony Melton have? Will Tyrese Maxey ever miss a shot again? All valid questions heading in.
We’ll get some answers Tuesday, against the Sixers’ division rival. Let’s basketball, shall we?
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Place: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts.
Watch: TNT, NBA TV
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic