Celtics

Irving scores 21, Celtics pull away in second half to beat Sixers, 110-102

Irving scores 21, Celtics pull away in second half to beat Sixers, 110-102

The starting five was new, but the end result – a Boston Celtics win – is the same as it ever was, with the C's pulling away in the second half for a 110-102 win over Philadelphia.

The Celtics (2-0) continue to look at different combinations to see what works best and which combinations still need work.

Boston began Friday night’s game at Philadelphia with a starting five that included the Big Three of Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford, which was joined by Jaylen Brown and rookie Jayson Tatum.

Irving led the way with 21 points to lead five double-figure scorers for the Celtics.

Meanwhile, the Sixers (0-2) were led by a pair of former Celtics in Jaryd Bayless (15 points) and Amir Johnson (12 points, five rebounds).

Philadelphia came within 105-99 with 2:35 to play, but Boston managed to hold on for the win.

As much as the Celtics wanted the win, more important was the continued growth of their young team with several players still working their way into defining their role for this upcoming season.

Among those young players was Tatum who made his first three shots before finishing with 7 points. Not only was he making shots, but he played with a presence at both ends of the floor.

The same can be said for Marcus Smart who had yet another strong game at both ends of the floor for the Celtics before finishing with 11 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals.

As for Philly, they very much remain a work in progress, especially with their best player Joel Embiid, still sidelined. He went through 5-on-5 work on Thursday, the first time he has done that since undergoing season-ending surgery on his left knee in March.

He is making progress and there’s a chance that he will be in the Sixers lineup when these two meet again in Boston on Monday.

But the Sixers do have Ben Simmons back.

The former No. 1 overall pick had eight points and five assists, but he also turned the ball over five times.

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Kyrie's injury doesn't appear to be long-term, Morris' knee another story

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Kyrie's injury doesn't appear to be long-term, Morris' knee another story

The quad injury that will keep Kyrie Irving off the floor tonight against Chicago doesn’t appear to be a long-term issue.

The knee bruise that had Al Horford’s availability in question - NBC Sports Boston's Abby Chin says he will play tonight - isn’t a serious thing, either.

But it’s unclear just how big a deal Marcus Morris’ left knee issue is going forward.

Prior to Sunday’s 91-81 win at Detroit, the Pistons announced that Morris would miss that game as well as tonight’s matchup against Chicago.

A Yahoo Sports! report said that Morris will miss “extended time” due to the left knee injury that has resulted in him missing 13 games which includes tonight’s game.

“Just like I said the other day, when we found out that he wasn’t feeling as good, we decided that he wasn’t going to play in these two games, we’ll re-evaluate it tomorrow with our docs,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told reporters prior to tonight’s game against Chicago. “That meeting has already been scheduled.”

Morris missed the first eight games of the season to give the left knee soreness a chance to heal and not be as sore. The Celtics began him with a minutes restriction, and increased his playing time gradually while not allowing him to play in back-to-back games.

And this latest flare-up comes at a time when Morris seemed to find a groove at both ends of the floor while providing Boston with some much-needed offensive punch off the bench.

“He played so well against Philly and Phoenix … I thought he looked really good,” Stevens said. “Played that Monday against Milwaukee and then missed the Dallas game, it’s just been kind of going back and forth. And it’s what we said from the get-go, we didn’t want that to happen. But we’ve got to figure it out for him so that he feels great.”

The Chicago Bulls will be short-handed as well tonight.

In addition to Zach LaVine (left ACL) and Cameron Payne (right foot), Chicago will also be without rookie Lauri Markkanen (back spasms) who is averaging 14.3 points and 7.9 rebounds which ranks fifth and second, respectively, among rookies this season.

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Irving out, Horford questionable for C's vs Bulls

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Irving out, Horford questionable for C's vs Bulls

We have seen the Boston Celtics reach deep into their bench this season, but nothing like what we’ll see tonight against the Chicago Bulls.

Along with Gordon Hayward (left ankle fracture) who is out for the season and Marcus Morris (left knee rehabilitation) who was ruled out for tonight’s game prior to last night’s win at Detroit, the Celtics will be without at least one of their two remaining all-star players.

Kyrie Irving has been ruled out due to a left quad contusion. And Al Horford, who briefly went to the Celtics’ locker room after a knee-to-knee collision with Pistons forward Anthony Tolliver, is question for tonight’s game with a right knee contusion.

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Horford was able to return to the Celtics’ lineup following the knee-on-knee blow, finishing with a near double-double of 18 points and nine rebounds to go with six assists.

If both Irving and Horford are unable to go, that leaves Boston void of its best scorer (Irving) and most complete player (Horford).

You have to wonder in the case of Horford, whether tonight’s opponent may factor in the decision to sit him or not.

Chicago (5-20) has the worst record in the NBA this season. And while the Celtics respect all opponents, if they are going to give guys some “strategic rest” in season, this would qualify as one of those nights considering the opponent in addition to knowing there won’t be any practice or a game tomorrow (the Celtics, like most teams, take the day off when they play back-to-back games).

We know Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and most likely Aron Baynes will be in the starting lineup. Beyond that, you're probably looking at Marcus Smart or Terry Rozier filling in for Irving, while Horford’s possible replacement will likely be from the trio of Daniel Theis, Semi Ojeleye or potentially Guerschon Yabusele.

Smart (four starts, 3-1 record) and Theis (two starts, 2-0 record) are the only ones from that group to have been in the starting lineup this season. 

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