Sixers get second look at Celtics tonight in Boston

By Brandon Apter, Sports Talk Philly editor

The Philadelphia 76ers got their first stab at the new-look Boston Celtics on Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center. Despite 24 turnovers, the Sixers' long-range shooting kept them in the game and they ended up losing by just eight. Neither Markelle Fultz or Dario Saric played and Joel Embiid remained out as he continues to rehab from March meniscus surgery. Tonight, the Sixers will have another opportunity to try and solve their Atlantic Division foes, but they'll be without two of their primary scoring options on offense. Tip-off tonight is set for 7:30 p.m. from TD Garden in Boston.

Saric, Fultz, TLC available to play

Monday night will feature the preseason debut of 2016-17 Rookie of the Year candidate Dario Saric. After completing his first season in the NBA, Saric played Eurobasket for his native Croatia this summer, so he was held out of the first two preseason games for rest. Brett Brown indicated that Saric will start tonight, despite the fact that he's probably going to lead the second unit off the bench during the regular season with the teams' surplus at forward. Last season, Saric averaged 12.8 points and 6.3 rebounds in 81 games played. Jessica Camerato reports that Saric will see limited minutes tonight and they'll increase over the next two preseason games.

Meanwhile, it looks like Fultz will come off the bench tonight as Jerryd Bayless and Ben Simmons run the point to start. Fultz struggled in his first preseason game, shooting 2-for-13 from the floor. The big story surrounding Fultz heading into the season was about him altering his shot. After missing 11 attempts against Memphis, it will be interesting to see if he reverts back to his old shot mechanics and if his sore shoulder hinders him in any way.

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot will be available tonight off the bench after missing time with right knee tendinitis. TLC's role on the Sixers is up in the air at this point, so he'll need to play his way into some minutes once the regular season begins, unless he sees himself suiting up for the Delaware 87ers. 

Redick, Covington will rest against Celtics

With Dario Saric and Markelle Fultz returning to action, both J.J. Redick and Robert Covington will rest against the Celtics after starting the first pair of preseason games for the Sixers. This will provide the Sixers with a big test offensively as Redick and Covington are some of the teams' primary offensive producers. 

Through two preseason games, Covington is averaging 10 points, six rebounds and a steal per game while Redick is averaging 11.5 points per game, shooting 57.1 percent from the floor. J.J. has hit all five three-pointers he's attempted thus far this preseason.

Brett Brown told reporters after practice on Monday that Nik Stauskas will get the start in place of Redick and he's eager to see how Stauskas performs defensively as a starter against the Celtics. 

Holmes injury opens up opportunities for Johnson, Okafor

Perhaps the biggest storyline going into this preseason match-up is that the Sixers will be without one of their centers. Sure, they aren't strangers to this, but Richaun Holmes is a guy who always steps in for the injured. This time, he's the injured one. On Friday, Holmes fractured his wrist against Boston and on Sunday, the Sixers announced he'd be re-evaluated in three weeks. 

Holmes' absence means that Amir Johnson and Jahlil Okafor will get more minutes automatically. Brown also mentioned that Dario Saric could see some time at the five spot, but with Embiid still working to get back, it's now Johnson and Okafor that will get the majority of minutes at center. Johnson is relatively reliable defensively, but will need to step up his game to contribute offensively to maintain consistent minutes at the back-up center spot. Meanwhile, Jahlil Okafor has looked strong offensively this preseason and has made some strides defensively, but as the video below shows, there's still a ways to go before Vegan Jah can make up for the defensive absence of Holmes.

Brett Brown said that he plans to start Jahlil Okafor tonight alongside Dario Saric, Ben Simmons, Jerryd Bayless and Nik Stauskas, so the former No. 3 pick will get an opportunity to get into a rhythm right at the start. Beyond the starting spot, Johnson will likely be the first big man off the bench. As Brett Brown goes deeper into his bench, it seems likely that Emeka Okafor and Kris Humphries will each get extended minutes as well.

Celtics to rest 'Big 3'

Although the Sixers will be without the services of Covington and Redick on offense, they may have an easier time against the Celtics as they plan to rest their 'Big 3' of Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford.

Through two preseason games, Irving is averaging 15 points and 3.0 assists, Hayward is averaging 7.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists while Horford is tallying 7.0 points and 7.5 rebounds. 

Projected Starters:

Matchup Preview  |  October 9, 2017
Philadelphia 76ers
(0-2, 0-0 Away)
  Boston Celtics
(2-0, 1-0 Home)
Projected Starters
Jerryd Bayless Point Guard Terry Rozier
Nik Stauskas Shooting Guard Jaylen Brown
Ben Simmons Small Forward Jayson Tatum
Dario Saric Power Forward Guerschon Yabusele
Jahlil Okafor Center Aron Baynes
Injury Report
Robert Covington (out/rest)
  Gordon Hayward (out/rest)
Joel Embiid (out/knee)
  Al Horford (out/rest)
Richaun Holmes (out/wrist)
  Kyrie Irving (out/rest)
JJ Redick (out/rest)
  Marcus Morris (doubtful)

Broadcast Information:

Tip-off – 7:30 p.m.

Location – TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

TV – NBC Sports Philadelphia

Radio – 97.5 The Fanatic

Stream Live – NBC Sports Live Extra App


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