AMHERST, Mass. -- For most of training camp, Al Horford has been thinking more about what he needed to do rather than simply playing the game.
That’s not unusual for a player during the early stages of being with a different team.
But on Monday, it seemed that the stars were aligning and all the plays, sets and actions he needed to perform were happening … with little to no thought beforehand.
So it didn’t come as a surprise to head coach Brad Stevens that the Celtics’ starters were the most impressive unit during the team’s 92-89 loss to the Sixers in preseason action.
“We came out, we were moving the ball. We looked really good in that first six or seven minutes,” Stevens said. “I thought everything had a purpose and I thought our second unit didn’t play as well.”
The Celtics opened the game with a 15-5 run and extended their lead to as many as 16 points (25-9) in the first.
While teams want to win all the time, one of the biggest pluses with the preseason is the knowledge gained from one game to the next.
“It’s a good lesson,” Steven said. “You can start off as well as you want; it’s a 48-minute game. And we didn’t play enough good minutes.”
Here’s a look at the Stars, Studs and Duds from Tuesday’s preseason win over the Celtics.
* Al Horford, Boston: Big Al was the man that we all came to see, and the 6-foot-10 big man did not disappoint. He scored the game’s first basket, snatched the first offensive rebound and was very effective during his 15 minutes of court time. He finished with 8 points on 4-for-8 shooting to go with 8 rebounds and a steal.
* Joel Embiid, Philadelphia: His long-awaited debut wasn’t nearly as eventful or successful as he or the Sixers wanted, but his develop will be a process. Getting on the floor and being able to walk off afterwards is a victory in itself considering he has missed the last two seasons with injuries. Embiid had six points and four rebounds to go with two blocks while playing just under 13 minutes.
* Jaylen Brown, Boston: He only had 8 points, but he came up big when the Celtics needed him down the stretch. It's clear already that this kid has elite athleticism that will set him apart from many of his contemporaries in time.
* Terry Rozier, Boston: Down the stretch, Rozier continues to show some serious clutch genes with some of the shots he’s making. He finished with 12 points to go with three rebounds and two assists.
* Jae Crowder, Boston: He has an improved jumper and Crowder didn’t waste any time showing it off on Tuesday. He scored 11 points on 4-for-8 shooting which included an impressive 3-for-6 on 3s while also racking up three steals in 19 minutes.
* R.J. Hunter, Boston: James Young got in Tuesday’s game before Hunter, and it didn’t take long to see why. Young was once again a solid performer when he entered the game while Hunter’s regression continues. He was scoreless in eight minutes of action, missing a pair of 3s in addition to turning the ball over twice.