If you were looking for a good indication of how the Boston Celtics will fare this season, their first preseason game probably won’t be the best example.
Without Kemba Walker, Tristan Thompson or Daniel Theis available, head coach Brad Stevens had the luxury of allowing players at least 10 minutes to see what he has to work with.
But this made for some interesting lineups, and behind a balanced Philadelphia offense led by Shake Milton (19 points), Joel Embiid (18 points) and Tobias Harris (16 points), the Sixers had no issue cruising past the Celtics, 108-99.
In his first time on the court in a Boston jersey, Jeff Teague led the team with 18 points and was a perfect 4-for-4 from beyond the arc. Rookie Payton Pritchard showed a lot of promise with his 17-point performance which included four rebounds, two assists and a block in 22 minutes.
Jayson Tatum scored 10 points, but Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart were a combined 2-for-15 from the field.
The good news? The game doesn’t count toward their record, and Stevens will have a better idea of what he has in his youngest players.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Marcus Smart
SG: Javonte Green
SF: Jaylen Brown
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Daniel Theis
THESE DEFINITELY ARE EXPERIMENTAL LINEUPS
Within a few minutes of the game, Smart took a preseason charge to really set his tone for the season.
Green made use of his time on the court with a quick 3-pointer to get the Celtics on the board and had an early steal. He was 2-for-2 on the floor as the Celtics pulled out to an 11-6 lead.
The Sixers were able to pull ahead, however, as Stevens took Tatum off the floor and rotated guys at the end of the bench in with Brown and Smart.
And as the Celtics offense fell quiet, Embiid proceeded to score nine points, two assists and a steal by the end of the quarter.
Tatum and Green lead the Celtics with five points apiece, Pritchard hit a smooth jumper for his first NBA points and Boston trailed 29-19.
TEAGUE PROMISING OFF THE BENCH
Pritchard and Teague showed some promise for the bench’s offense making instant contributions. Teague had back-to-back 3-pointers early in the second quarter to keep things close. And hopefully lobs from a speedy Pritchard in transition to Robert Williams will be something we see often.
And Pritchard did this on defense, too.
Teague was a perfect 3-for-3 in triples, leading the Celtics with nine points at the break. Tatum was all over the stat sheet early scoring eight points with four rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal. Smart was all over the floor, taking multiple offensive fouls.
Brown (eight rebounds), Green and Semi Ojeleye each had five points in the half, which the Sixers lead 50-44 with help from 11 turnovers.
Oddly, rookie Aaron Nesmith didn’t see the floor in the first two quarters.
CELTICS STILL PLAYING FROM BEHIND
Boston started the second half strong, with a diving steal by Smart immediately after he hit a jumper. He dished it out to Green in transition who finished with a jam.
And after an inconsistent start, Robert Williams seemed to shake out some of the nerves.
Nesmith and Carsen Edwards saw their season debuts in the third quarter, and Nesmith hit a trey to get on the board for the first time.
Teague had 18 points in 19 minutes through the first three quarters to lead Boston.
But by that point, he was keeping the Celtics in it as the Sixers led 82-72 after the third quarter behind Milton (19 points), Embiid (18 points) and Harris (16 points.)
SIXERS RUN AWAY WITH THINGS
Philadelphia packed on to its lead in the final quarter as Stevens went with a hilariously small lineup that included Tremont Waters, Pritchard and Edwards with Nesmith playing the four.
Grant Williams didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard, but made solid contributions by doing a lot of the little things right all game.
He finished with five points, six rebounds, three assists and a block.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Boston’s first two points of the preseason:
The Celtics finish out their preseason games back at home, hosting Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets on Friday, Dec. 18 at 8 p.m. ET.