Philadelphia 76ers (0-0) at Boston Celtics (0-0)
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
7:30 PM ET
Game #1 Home Game #1
TV: CSNNE, CSN PHI, NBA-LP 752(xfinity)/752(DTV)
Radio: Sports Hub 98.5, Fanatic 97.5
Referees: Zach Zarba, Rodney Mott, Eli Roe
The Celtics begin their season at home against division rival Philadelphia 76ers. These two teams met in their last game of the preseason with the Celtics coming out on top 81-65. The 76ers rank 4th all time in opening night winning percentage at .621. The Celtics rank 5th in opening night win percentage.
The Celtics swept the series 4-0 last season for the first time in 7 years, winning each game by at least 15 points. The Celtics are basically healthy with only Kelly Olynyk expected to miss this game due to a suspension because of the Kevin Love injury in last season's playoffs. Kelly's absence could be an opportunity for Jared Sullinger to get more playing time and make an impression.
The Sixers are expected to be short handed in this game. Nik Stauskas is expected to be a game time decision but his playing time will be limited since he missed the entire preseason with a leg injury. If Stauskas doesn't play, the Sixers will only have 9 players available for this game. Jordan Mickey and James Young will be inactive for this game.
PG Marcus Smart....... SG: Avery Bradley
C: Tyler Zeller
SF: Jae Crowder .............. PF: David Lee
Kelly Olynyk (Suspended) out
PG: Isaiah Canaan................. SG: JaKarr Sampson
C: Jahlil Okafor
SF: Hollis Thompson.............. PF: Nerlens Noel
Nick Stauskas (leg) game time decision
Tony Wroten (knee) out
Carl Landry (wrist) out
Joel Embiid (foot) out
Robert Covington (knee) out
Kendall Marshall (ACL) out
David Lee vs Nerlens Noel and Tyler Zeller vs Jahlil Okafor
The Sixers strength is in their young center and power forward. Noel led all rookies in rebounding (8.1), steals (1.77) and blocks (1.89) last season. The only other rookie to average more than 1.5 blocks and 1.5 steals was David Robinson. He could be a tough matchup for the Celtics. In the 4 games against the Celtics last season, Noel averaged 13.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.3 blocks. Jahlil Okafor was the 3rd pick in this year's draft and is athletic and talented and will also test the Celtics interior defense as he tries to make his mark in the league.
Keys to the Game
Defense - The Celtics have been building their identity around a tough defense. With Smart, Bradley and Crowder, they have a very tough defensive line. They need to continue to play tough defense with both the starters and the second unit. Defense wins games.
Be Aggressive - The Celtics have to be the more aggressive team and go after all the loose balls, and aggressively go after rebounds, and be aggressive on defense. They also have to be aggressive in taking the ball into the paint. The more aggressive team will usually get the benefit of the whistles.
Move the Ball - The Celtics have shown beautiful ball movement in the preseason and they have to continue to move the ball and find the open man. But they need to make crisp passes and not get sloppy and make careless passes.
Run- The Celtics need to use their depth to run on every possession. They can get easy baskets if they beat their opponents up the floor. They can also set their defense if they can beat opponents back on the other end.
Opening Night at Home - The Celtics should get a boost from the home crowd who should be very loud and excited for the new season. The Celtics should also come out fired up to begin a new season in front of their home crowd.
Sixers Injuries and Youth - The Sixers will be short handed with only 9 or 10 players available. They are also very young and so it would be easy for the Celtics to underestimate them. Many times an undermanned team will surprise a better team that takes them for granted.