The Sixers play the Celtics more than any other team. They faced off in two preseason games, and will play against each other four times in the regular season.
Even with the extra preseason exposure, Celtics coach Brad Stevens says playing the Sixers is not familiar territory.
“We haven’t seen them,” Steven said before Boston’s shootaround Friday morning.
Joel Embiid did not play in either of the exhibition games against the Celtics. Markelle Fultz and Dario Saric did not play play in the first matchup, then Robert Covington and J.J. Redick were held out to rest in the second bout.
“You take Redick and Covington off the floor like they did in the second exhibition game and it’s not real because those are the guys that really stretch you out and make you stay honest on the perimeter,” Stevens said.
Though Stevens would like to face the Sixers full roster with all of the fire power he has, Boston has been dealt some heavy blows in the NBA season’s opening days.
Gordon Hayward suffered a gruesome dislocated left ankle and fractured tibia in the first quarter of the Celtics opening game in Cleveland. The next night, against Milwaukee, Marcus Smart sprained his left ankle and most likely won’t play against the Sixers.
Additionally, Marcus Morris missed training camp with Boston while he was on trial for aggravated assault in Phoenix. After being acquitted, Morris played in just 11 minutes of Boston’s final preseason game against Charlotte. Now, dealing with left knee soreness, the Philadelphia native has yet to play in the regular season and will also be out against the Sixers.
“Every tough situation for your team, where someone else isn’t available, provides opportunity for somebody else to step up and take advantage of that,” Stevens said. “We’re going to have to make a few tweaks on how we do things generally.”
Stevens did not share who the starting five will be at the Sixers home opener.
Tatum not holding a grudge
Rookie Jayson Tatum will always be linked to the Sixers because just four days before the 2017 draft, Philadelphia traded it’s No. 3 pick with Boston’s No. 1 pick in order to take Fultz. Making Tatum the third overall pick by the Celtics.
Not only will comparisons between Fultz and Tatum be made throughout the season because of the trade, but comparisons of all the top picks will be made as the rookie of the year race heats up.
Tatum says he has paid attention to how the other high draft picks are playing, but that he isn’t spiteful for not going No. 1 overall.
“I like where I’m at and I’m happy that Boston drafted me,” Tatum said.