76ers

Sixers-Celtics preseason observations: Balance missing in 110-102 loss

BOX SCORE

The second look at Markelle Fultz has to wait as the No. 1 pick sat out of the Sixers’ 110-102 loss to the Celtics on Friday.

Fultz was sidelined by right shoulder soreness. The Sixers changed up their starting five with the substitutions of Jerryd Bayless for Fultz and Amir Johnson for Richaun Holmes. Ben Simmons, JJ Redick and Robert Covington remained in the lineup. 

The Celtics were in regular-season form with a starting lineup of Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum and Al Horford. Even though the Celtics’ roster is deep, the Sixers trailed by just two points at halftime thanks to 52.4 percent three-point shooting in the first half. 

• Joel Embiid missed his second straight preseason game. The Sixers have not announced a date for his return, but Brett Brown is feeling optimistic (not definitive) about Embiid playing opening night on Oct. 18.

“I believe that with the way it’s going now, if it continues and progresses a little bit, if that can be maintained and upped, then I think that we’re going to have enough body of work to be able to play decent basketball,” Brown said of Embiid. “It won’t be completely unorganized.”

• Simmons had eight points (3 for 8 from the field, 2 for 6 from the line), five assists, three rebounds and four fouls in 23 minutes. The Sixers used this game as an opportunity to see Simmons in different defensive matchups. Simmons started off guarding power forward Tatum and then small forward Hayward. Throughout the game he also defended point guard Irving and shooting guard Brown. When it came to offense, he continued to be aggressive at the basket. That aggressiveness also ended up resulting in two charging fouls trying to score against center Aron Baynes. 

• Irving scored a game-high 21 points (including five treys) in 25 minutes. 

• Bayless led the Sixers with 15 points (3 for 5 from three) and five assists. Jahlil Okafor pulled down six rebounds with 11 points off the bench. 

• Dario Saric isn’t the only one “trusting the friendship” with T.J. McConnell. Watch McConnell find Simmons for the alley-oop from halfcourt. 

• Saric (rest), Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (right knee patellar tendinitis) and James Michael McAdoo (left hamstring tightness) did not play. Brown intends to rest many of his players in at least one preseason game (three remaining). Redick is slated to sit out Monday against the Celtics in Boston. Brown said it is possible Covington could miss that game, too.