Maybe because it's a World Series off day, tonight's 76ers game against the Boston Celtics at the Wachovia Center will draw a little more attention than their home opener on Friday against the Milwaukee Bucks. Plus, it's the Boston Celtics, who are 4-0 so far this season with those victories being relatively convincing. The Sixers are 2-1, with a loss to the Orlando Magic and a win each over the Bucks and the New York Knicks.
After what happened at Orlando, the Sixers should be looking at this game as a way to show they can compete. Wins over the Bucks and Knicks don't stretch too far in that department. Tonight's game doesn't have to be a victory, but it would say something if the Sixers were in the game from start to finish. And if not, then they're still in need of proving exactly where this team will be this season. Here are a few things to watch:
1.) Lou Williams vs. Rajon Rondo: Wrote about this in this morning's Inquirer. Williams' numbers through three games are All-Star level. Rondo is averaging 11.5 assists a game. Both guys are crazy fast and athletic. It'll be interesting to see Williams in a starting role against a team like the Celtics. He's said lately that he's specifically concerned with his turnover numbers. He's actively keeping them low and challenging himself to go games at a time without one.
2.) Elton Brand: (and, of course, Kevin Garnett): Brand has played very well the last two games. Against the Knicks on Saturday night, Brand had a plus/minus number of plus-33. That's incredible, obviously. His jumper has looked decent and he's been very effective. Tonight will be good to see if he can keep doing that against a much better team. He didn't look too good against the Magic in the opener.
3.) Celtics' defense vs. Sixers offense: The offense looked good enough against the Knicks, but the Knicks don't actually play defense -- it seems to be part of their philosophy to not play defense. The Celtics are one -- if not the NBA's best -- defensive team. Could give us an idea of how the Sixers will run this offense against a strong NBA team ... and a smart NBA team.
4.) Jrue Holiday. He's only played in one game so far this season, playing 7 minutes and scoring a bucket. I think fans want to see a little bit more of Holiday and I get the impression that as the season progresses, we'll see more of this kid. As far as tonight goes, first thing will be to confirm he's off the Inactive List (and Brezec remains on it).
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More later ...