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It's Game Day!!! Celtics host the injury depleted Philadelphia 76ers

The Celtics look to continue their mastery over the division rival 76ers as they host them in the season opener.

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

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
TD Garden
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.

Probable Starters

PG Marcus Smart....... SG: Avery Bradley

C: Tyler Zeller

SF: Jae Crowder .............. PF: David Lee

Celtics Reserves

Evan Turner
RJ Hunter
Jonas Jerebko
Jared Sullinger
Jordan Mickey
Terry Rozier
Isaiah Thomas
James Young
Amir Johnson

Head Coach

Brad Stevens

Kelly Olynyk (Suspended) out

Probable Starters

PG: Isaiah Canaan................. SG: JaKarr Sampson

C: Jahlil Okafor

SF: Hollis Thompson.............. PF: Nerlens Noel

Sixers Reserves
TJ McConnell
Richuan Holmes
Christian Wood
Jerami Grant

Head Coach
Brett Brown

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

Key Matchups
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.

Official Report

Zach Zarba
Zach Zarba has officiated 697 regular season NBA games, 27 playoff games and one Finals game during his 12 year career. Prior to joining the NBA, Zarba officiated in the NBA Development League for two years, where he was part of the crew that officiated the 2003 D-League Finals. He also spent one year officiating in the CBA and two years officiating in the IBL. Zarba has three years of collegiate officiating experience in the ACC, SEC, Colonial, ASUN, OVC and NEC Conferences. In addition, he has three years of high school officiating experience in New York.
In a win over Cleveland last season, Zarba made 3 terrible calls down the stretch which prompted Tommy to say "Zach Zarba, every time we have this guy he makes things up." His home W/L record in the preseason was 0-1.
Rodney Mott
Rodney Mott has officiated 978 regular season games and 14 playoff games during his 17-season NBA career Prior to joining the NBA officiating staff, Mott spent four years officiating in the CBA, eight years officiating in the Los Angeles Pro Am basketball league, three years officiating at the junior college level, and four years officiating high school in San Diego. In 2007, Mott was suspended without pay for 3 games for making an obscene gesture and inappropriate comment toward a fan. Mott challenged the charges and said that they used him as a scapegoat to take attention away from other issues, but the suspension stood.
The Celtics have had mixed results with Mott as an official. Like many refs, he can be good or bad depending on the night. It was Rodney Mott that Rondo was joking with and accidentally bumped in a game vs the Hawks. Even though Mott didn't show any reaction at the time and backed up Rondo's story that he was indeed joking with him at the time, Rondo was suspended for the incident. This is Mott's first game of the season.
Eli Roe
Eli Roe has officiated 499 regular season games during his first ten NBA seasons. Prior to joining the NBA staff, Roe officiated in the CBA, NBA Development League and WNBA. He officiated in the NBA D-League Finals for two years, the D-League playoffs for four years and the WNBA Playoffs for two years. At the collegiate level, Roe refereed in the SEC, ASUN and OVC conferences and numerous Division II and III, NAIA and Juco league games. He also worked in four Division I postseason conference tournaments.
Roe tends to be inconsistent in his calls and can make the calls favor one team over another on any given night. He is also inconsistent with block/charge calls. In one game two seasons ago, a win over the Clippers, Roe made so many bad calls that Tommy yelled "Eli! I hate Eli! I hate him!" In other games, the officiating has been good. He's like Forest Gump's box of chocolates - you never know what you are going to get. Roe's home W/L record in the pre-season is 0-1.

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