In their first-round series sweep of the Sixers in the NBA’s Orlando bubble last season, the Celtics were fortunate to avoid any games at the Wells Fargo Center.
Given the Sixers’ 29-2 mark in Philadelphia during the 2019-20 season, that was a big advantage for Boston. The Sixers haven't lost a game at Wells Fargo Center this calendar year, and their unbeaten run continued Tuesday night with a 108-99 preseason win over Boston (see observations).
Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum combined to shoot 5 for 24 from the floor in the Celtics’ loss and Boston turned the ball over 20 times, having a rough go of it offensively.
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens got a kick out of the new, no-fans version of Philadelphia hospitality.
“It was also great to play in front of no fans and get used to what that’s like in these big arenas,” Stevens told reporters. “It’s a much different feeling than it was in the bubble when you were in a much smaller venue. Even the piped-in noise … I appreciate Philly, when they announced our starting lineup, they did the “You suck” chant anyways. It made it feel a little bit more like Philly. I missed all those people behind me wishing me happy holidays in their own special way.”
Rookie Tyrese Maxey and the Sixers enjoyed the unusual environment. Maxey went from playing in front of crowds at Rupp Arena cheering on his high-energy brand of basketball to having zero fans in attendance for his preseason NBA debut.
“I know when I was on the bench cheering for my teammates, it felt great," Maxey said. "I feel like we were the crowd. The sounds of the arena, it’s weird. I don’t know what it’s like to play an NBA game with fans. Today, it felt normal. It didn’t feel weird or awkward because there were no fans.
"I feel like the bench was really engaged, standing up, cheering on whoever was in the game. ... I think it was cool.”