Game Preview: Celtics at 76ers

BOSTON – This year’s version of the Boston Celtics (0-2) will play its first true road game when it takes on the Philadelphia 76ers (1-1) at 7 p.m. tonight in Newark, Del. Boston has played two games thus far, including one home game that was played in Providence, R.I.

The Celtics weren’t able to come out on top in either of their first two preseason contests, but they have been pleased with their progression. Boston has improved in each game and that’s what the preseason is all about.

“Our main this is, we can go 0-for in the preseason. We just want to get better as a team and get ready to amp this thing up in the regular season,” Gerald Wallace said on Thursday. “We’re all going out to win in the preseason, but our main thing this early on, in preseason, is just to get better as a team.”

Avery Bradley dribbles against the Toronto Raptors

Avery Bradley hopes to increase his assist-to-turnover ratio tonight against Michael Carter-Williams and the 76ers.
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty Images

As true as that may be, everyone on this roster wants to enjoy the taste of winning, even though this is just the preseason. That taste would be even sweeter if it came against a divisional opponent like the 76ers.

These two franchises met in the playoffs two seasons ago but their current rosters look much different now than they did then. Boston has moved on to a new era with Rajon Rondo leading the way amongst a roster full of young and talented players. Meanwhile, rookie Michael Carter-Williams has replaced All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday in Philadelphia, and the Sixers also hired a new head coach in Brett Brown.

We won’t be able to watch Rondo and Carter-Williams face off at point guard tonight, but that doesn’t mean we won’t see a great battle on the perimeter. The matchup between Avery Bradley and Carter-Williams is every bit as intriguing.

Bradley and Carter-Williams are almost polar opposites. Bradley is a feisty defender who stands at just 6-foot-2. Carter-Williams, meanwhile, is 6-foot-6 and is known more for his passing.

Carter-Williams has by far out-performed Bradley in assists this preseason. The rookie currently has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 10-to-1, compared to Bradley’s ratio of 1.2-to-1. However, Bradley has shot much better from downtown, making 66.7 percent of his 3s compared to Carter-Williams’ 37.5 percent.

As one may surmise, it will be quite entertaining to see how these two opposites match up against each other tonight. One thing you can bet on is that Bradley will be working diligently to improve that assist ratio.

“I see some opportunities where I can make passes,” Bradley said, “but I’m trying to lower the turnovers and try to just make that easy pass that leads to a great play.”

The good news for Bradley is that Boston’s offense should help him do that. This team is predicated on sharing the ball, as indicated by its average of 26.5 assists per game through two contests. That number could rise against a Sixers team that has allowed opponents to average 27.5 assists per game this preseason.

The Celtics want to continue that trend, but they also want to win. This group hasn’t experienced the taste of victory together just yet. Tonight, which features a road game against a division opponent, would be the perfect time to break through.