Celtics

Celtics-Sixers preview: Two teams that 'trust the progress'

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Celtics-Sixers preview: Two teams that 'trust the progress'

LONDON -- Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown has had enough of trusting the process.

He has seen too much growth, too much steady improvement by his players. Not only in terms of win total, but also when it comes to an increased compete level.

Which is why Brown, for now, is all about trusting the progress.

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And, like Philadelphia, the Celtics are also looking at Thursday's game as a means to get better with a highly successful team whose core consists of several young players in their early to mid-20s.

The Sixers have a young core as well, although admittedly not quite as accomplished as the Celtics.

Boston is led by 25-year-old Kyrie Irving, with strong contributions  from Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, who are 21 and 19 respectively.

That’s among the reasons Brown is hesitant to view this game as a battle between upcoming stars in this league.

“We don’t yet have stars. We don’t have any championships, we don’t have any All-Stars,” Brown said. “We’re very much at the foundation of trying to get [there]. There’s a difference between popular and championships. That’s my version of a star. Are you able to get your teams to win, and win championships?"

Brown added, “This is the challenge. Ben Simmons and Joel [Embiid], that’s my mission for them, that’s my mission for all of us, to grow champions. Right now we’re just scratching the surface. I want to say, ‘Trust the progress and not the process,' and we’re doing that. We’re moving forward; there is progress.”

The same can be said for Boston (33-10), which comes in with a six-game winning streak, the longest active streak in the NBA. 

Having managed to rack up a nice string of wins lately, you have to wonder if a change of scenery might have an impact on the team’s recent run of success.

 “We do a great job of preparing as a group,” said Irving. “Doing what’s needed to get wins and feel good about ourselves. But it really starts when cameras aren’t rolling, how we prepare and demand excellence from one another. And it carries on to the floor.”

One of the Celtics' strengths has been their top-rated defense, which has a defensive rating of 99.7. Boston is also allowing a league-low 97.4 points per game.

But the Sixers aren’t too far behind when it comes to defense. They are currently ranked seventh with a defensive rating of 103.3.

And while there has been a lot of talk here in London about how Boston and Philadelphia are going to be powers in the East sooner rather than later, Celtic players have stayed in the moment.

“It’s cool being here, see some nice, touristy stuff and all that, but we have a job to do and that’s beat Philly,” Marcus Morris told NBC Sports Boston. “That’s what has to happen for us to leave here feeling good about this trip.”

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Kyrie Irving voted in as All-Star Game starter

Kyrie Irving voted in as All-Star Game starter

Kyrie Irving has been voted in as a starter in this year's NBA All-Star Game.

Irving led all Eastern Conference guards from in votes from fans, media, and players. It'll be his fifth All-Star appearance.

Here's the full list of starters from both the Eastern and Western conferences:

Irving is averaging 24.1 points per game this season and shooting a career-high 47.3 percent from the field.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Kyrie Irving out vs 76ers with shoulder injury

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Kyrie Irving out vs 76ers with shoulder injury

BOSTON – Brad Stevens said Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving will sit out tonight’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Irving aggravated his shoulder in Boston’s 116-113 overtime loss to New Orleans on Tuesday, and was held out of the team’s practice on Wednesday. 

Without Irving, Boston will start Marcus Smart in the backcourt along with Jaylen Brown, with the frontcourt consisting of the usual trio of Jayson Tatum, Al Horford and Aron Baynes. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE