Preview: Boston Celtics Set to Kickoff Preseason Play

Sep 26, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) during media day at the Boston Celtic Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 26, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) during media day at the Boston Celtic Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports /

The Boston Celtics kickoff their 2016-17 season against the Philadelphia 76ers

Boston Celtics basketball is finally back. After a crazy offseason that featured a huge signing in Al Horford and too many rumors to count, the Celtics will finally have a chance to showcase their 2016-17 team.

The Celtics will tip-off at the Mullins Center on the campus of the University of Massachusetts against the Philadelphia 76ers at 7 p.m. ET. This is the first of seven preseason games, which includes five road games.

It seems fitting that the Celtics first opponent is the Philadelphia 76ers, considering the numerous trade rumors involving these two teams. In the end, the two sides were unable to strike up a deal, however trade rumors involving Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel never died down between the two teams all summer.

The rumors have likely gone away for a while after Ben Simmons broke a bone in his foot during training camp. Sadly, Simmons will miss the first couple months of the season and there are rumors that he might not play at all as a rookie. It would be a smart move by the 76ers considering the likeliness of him re-injuring himself.

There will still be plenty to watch this game. While starters won’t play heavy minutes, it will be the first action of Al Horford’s Celtics career. It will be interesting to see the numerous ways Brad Stevens uses the newly signed big man. Not to mention how well he meshes with fellow All-Star Isaiah Thomas.

While the first preseason game won’t show the Celtics true rotation in the regular season, replacing Evan Turner has been a hot topic this whole offseason, and Brad Stevens will finally have a chance to answer a lot of questions surrounding the rotation. I’d expect a lot of playing time for second year guard Terry Rozier, as well as R.J. Hunter as the Celtics try to figure out which player will land the final roster spot.

Not to mention that this will also be the first NBA action of Jaylen Brown‘s career. Sure, he played in summer league, although actual NBA action is different. These are very important games for him to cement himself in the rotation early and gain Brad Stevens’ trust, especially considering rookies tend to struggle to find minutes under Stevens.

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For the 76ers, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric will make their NBA debuts. The two young big men have yet to set foot on an NBA floor with a 76ers jersey on. This will be somewhat telling of the type of role they’ll play in with Philadelphia this season.

The first preseason game comes with a lot of excitement but very little actual material. Teams are still trying to figure out plays and mesh together, and this is just the first step. Of course, winning the game isn’t as important as seeing consistent development in the team throughout the preseason.

Although, with the expectations that the Boston Celtics are coming in with, a loss to the 76ers, even in the preseason, would be disappointing. There is a special aurora surrounding the Celtics this season, and it’s great to have any kind of basketball back.

Next: Four Ways to Enjoy Celtics Preseason Basketball

That being said, the Celtics first home game on October 8 against the Charlotte Hornets will be even more exciting with it being the first home game for Jaylen Brown and Al Horford. Until then, we can all be grateful that NBA basketball is back.