Amherst, MA

MULLINS

Today is the second of three firsts: First day of practice (check), First preseason game (soon to be checked), First regular season game (Oct. 29). The Sixers play the Celtics tonight, 7 p.m., here in Amherst, MA.

The pre-game action (i.e. our Live Chat) will take place at 3 p.m. Should be a fun discussion because, finally, the games have arrived. If you'd like to join, click here: Sixers Chat.  After the chat, I'm going straight to the gym, so I'll try to blog again before the start of the game. I wish there was a way to do live updates via the blog. Hmmmmmm, I'll have to work on that.

Here's the news on Kareem Rush: He won't play tonight. The swelling in his left ankle subsided, but he's still a no-go. The Sixers are listing him as day-to-day (aren't we all?). Rush hurt the ankle Monday during practice at PCOM. Cheeks said (on Monday) that Rush did go up-and-down a few times after turning the ankle, which is a pretty good indication it isn't too serious.

The Sixers switched their morning shootaround from the Mullins Center on the University of Massachusetts campus to the Hall of Fame in Springfield. They shot for about an hour (I am told). I was not present as I was unaware of the venue switch. That will be the only time that happens as I'm now aware of a little something called the "Sixers Media Hotline."

Here are three storylines on which to keep an eye:

1.) Elton Brand. (Duh, right?). Cheeks said after yesterday's practice that he wants to see Brand against another team's defense. What I'm interested in is his ability to run in transition. So far -- through the scrimmages and practices -- the word coming from Cheeks and Brand is he loves the running game. I haven't seen too many Elton Brand fastbreaks, but, in fairness, he has been boxing out and grabbing rebounds. Also involving Brand: The half-court offense. We've talked at length about the attention Brand should "command," on the block/mid-post. Now we need to see it in action, see if the opponent doubles Brand, see how he makes that skip pass to the weak side.

2.) Andre Iguodala. Iguodala should start tonight at shooting guard. How will that work? Will he take the "shooting" out of that designation? Or will he make one or two threes and a few one-dribble pull-ups? How will the offense flow with Iguodala at the two-spot? Will he be productive coming of that high pick-and-roll?

(Seems I have more questions than answers today.)

3.) The rotation: This is the big one. Cheeks said not everyone will play. But the exciting, interesting, daunting (if you're Cheeks) thing about this team is the slew of proven NBA players on the roster. Cheeks said he won't have a rotation of 12. He said that would be impossible. Tonight we won't have the answer. We won't know who has caught Cheeks' eye (or eyes) and who should get comfortable in his shooting shirt. But we will, hopefully, have a glimpse of these things. Will Willie Green get 28 minutes and Ivey 12? Or vice versa?

Again, I hope after the game we'll have more concrete evidence to support our speculation.

As for the photos. The first is the outside of the Mullins Center. Thought you guys might want a visual for the arena. And ... the second one ... well, it's an experiment. It's my first non-basketball picture (it's a darn good one, though, right? I love it when objects don't move). I imagine I might get some comments, "Who the heck cares about Amherst and where you're blogging from!" But my goal this season is to take you on the road with the Sixers. I bet most of you guys would enjoy being in Amherst tonight, or at Cleveland later in the season, or in Utah in December ... so occasionally I might post pictures of the city/town, too. If it goes over well. Not coincidentally, the Amherst coffee shop (see 127? Local place, not Starbucks) is where we'll be Live Chatting.

Be back later ...

-- Kate

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