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Expect the unexpected in Celtics season-opener versus Philadelphia

The Celtics season opener takes place tomorrow versus the Philadelphia 76'ers. The two teams last met on March 20, 2019, resulting in a 118-115 Philly victory. No one is quite sure what will happen tomorrow night.


There is no love lost between Marcus Smart and Joel Embiid. Smart's come-from-behind shove of Embiid got Marcus tossed from the game and ignited the big Philly center. I doubt we will see a repeat by Marcus. Brad Stevens was vocal about Marcus needing to stay in the game.

The top scorer and rebounder in that game was Kyrie Irving who has departed for the Nets. Top assist guy was Al Horford who should be manning the power forward spot tomorrow next to Joel. In Kyrie's place will be Kemba Walker, and we can expect him to drive the Philly defenders nuts with his quick moves, passing and scoring - much like Irving.

The center spot for Boston remains undecided. Daniel Theis has looked generally like the best choice at the 5-spot, but dealing with Embiid may be too much of an over-match for the 6'8" Theis inside. Enes Kanter, or even Vincent Poirier, may be the center-of-choice against the 76'ers. Embiid had a field day against Boston last March, scoring 37 points and taking down 22 rebounds. Slowing him down will be critical.


It ended up being Joel's block of a Kyrie Irving shot that sealed the game for Philadelphia. He was truly dominant in that game. It is notable that Gordon Hayward did not play in that game due to him being on concussion protocol. Hopefully, Hayward will play a significant role tomorrow.

Both teams seem slated to be tough on the defensive end, but Boston can not compete with the size of the 76'ers. Kemba's quickness - Smart's defensive disruption - and the depth at the wing position could be the aces that win the game. I read a lot lately about the 6'3" (without shoes) Smart playing small-ball center on occasion. I am all for it. Hell, it appears Smart has settled down his outbursts, so a short spell of Smart on Embiid could work. Hey, expect the unexpected tomorrow night. Philly is rated ahead of Boston in virtually every poll. Are they better than the Celtics? We'll know better after tomorrow's season opener. Let's get this "Process" underway!

Follow Tom at @CelticsSentinel, @_Celtics_Center and Facebook

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