Celtics

Despite unconventional rebuild, Celtics see bright future for 76ers

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Despite unconventional rebuild, Celtics see bright future for 76ers

BOSTON -- For years, Philly fans have been asked to “Trust the Process” as the team went about building itself in a rather non-traditional manner.

They stunk, and teams that stink get high draft picks.

And so they continued to stink and continued to pile up the most highly regarded players with the goal that someday, all that young talent would come of age which would transform the organization from a league laughingstock to a playoff contender.

There’s still a lot of time left in this season, but all indications are that the Sixers’ time has arrived.

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Philadelphia (12-8) hasn’t had this kind of success this early in years, the kind of success that they are looking to build on against the Boston Celtics (18-4) who boast the best record in the NBA.

And making the Sixers’ rise even more surprising is the unorthodox manner in which they accumulated talent, almost strictly through lots of losses which they then turned into high draft picks that are starting to blossom into superstars before our eyes.

Joel Embiid, who does not play in back-to-back games which is why he’s out tonight, has emerged as one of the NBA’s top big men. He's averaging a double-double of 22.9 points and 11.3 rebounds per game.

And Ben Simmons, who missed all of last season due to injury, has been the front-runner for the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award.He is averaging 18.7 points, 9.5 rebounds and 7.2 assists.

Philadelphia also has rookie of the year runner-up Dario Saric back for his second NBA season, in addition to Markelle Fultz (shoulder) who was taken with the number one overall pick in last June’s NBA draft and is currently out with a shoulder injury.

Boston’s ascension came about in a different manner, but there’s no arguing with the results that we’re starting to see from the Sixers who are four games above-.500 despite having the toughest schedule thus far in the NBA.

“We’re playing NBA royalty,” quipped Sixers head coach Brett Brown, referring to Philadelphia having already played Cleveland, Houston, Golden State and tonight the Boston Celtics.

“Philly’s got a really good team,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “They’ve been really well coached for a long time, and have good young talent.”

Here’s what Boston’s Kyrie Irving had to say about Philadelphia’s rebuild.

“I don’t know if it’s the conventional way, the way things have been done in NBA history but it’s working for them,” Irving said. “They’ve had some high-caliber talent come in that they drafted well and had guys that may not have played their first season due to injuries, stuff like that, but when they’re on the floor they’re pretty effective. Just a great group of young guys trying to develop, and (find) a spot for themselves in this league.”

When asked about Philadelphia’s team and how they came about, Al Horford quipped, “I think it worked out pretty good. Those guys … it worked out really well.”

Horford added, “That’s not the way you want to do it but it worked out great. You have a guy like Joel Embiid, you have Ben Simmons. You just have a lot of great players over there and you bring in some veterans, J.J. Redick, Amir Johnson … all of a sudden, you’re a playoff team. The future is very bright for them.”

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Stevens impressed by Hayward's comments, but doesn't expect a return this year

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Stevens impressed by Hayward's comments, but doesn't expect a return this year

 In an interview with the Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach, Celtics wing player Gordon Hayward touched on several topics including the possibility of him returning to action this season.

"So I'm making sure that if I come back, I'm 1,000 percent confident in myself and my leg," Hayward told the Globe. "I hope more than anything I can play this season. That would be awesome. But that's not something I'm stressing about. I'm stressing about what I can do today to help myself get better."

While Hayward’s focus remains on improving enough to where the possibility of him returning this season is more than just hopeful thinking, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens reiterated that the Celtics are not making any plans for a Hayward return this season.

“He’s gotta find any motivation that he can find,” Stevens told reporters prior to today’s game against Detroit. “We’re certainly not going to put limitations on what he strives to do. That being said, we’re not planning on it (Hayward’s return this season). All that is really good; it indicates he feels really good where he’s headed and he should, and that he’s going to be fully healthy when he does get back on the court which he should. That’s the positive of it.”

Hayward suffered a dislocated left ankle injury less than five minutes into Boston’s season-opener at Cleveland onOct. 17. He underwent surgery afterwards and was expected to be out for the remainder of the season.

Boston was awarded a disabled player exception worth $8.4 million, the highest value ever for a DPE. The Celtics are likely to give serious thought to using it as the Celtics draw closer towards the trade deadline.

Also, the DPE is not impacted in any way if Hayward returns to action this season. Prior to being awarded the DPE, independent doctors deemed it “more likely than not” that Hayward would not return to action prior to June 15.

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Marcus Morris to miss today's game against Pistons

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Marcus Morris to miss today's game against Pistons

The Boston Celtics are looking to avenge an earlier loss to the Detroit Pistons, but they’ll have to do it without a player who knows the Pistons as well as anyone.

Marcus Morris, who spent the past two seasons in Detroit, will miss today’s game against the Pistons in addition to Monday night’s matchup at Chicago.

Morris, who missed the first eight games of the season due to left knee soreness, has been in and out of Boston’s lineup due to the injury.

Since sitting out those first eight games, today’s game against the Pistons and Monday night’s game at Chicago, will result in the 6-foot-9 forward missing three games in a four-game stretch.

Having appeared in 16 games this season for the Celtics, Morris has averaged 12.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game while shooting 41.2 percent from the field and 32.8 percent from 3-point range.

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