CAMDEN, N.J.–The Philadelphia 76ers are off to a terrific start under new coach Nick Nurse. After a 1-point loss on opening night to the Milwaukee Bucks, they have ripped off five straight wins and are ready for the next challenge: the Boston Celtics.
The Sixers will play host to the Celtics on Wednesday as they look to continue to grow under Nurse and want to be in the mix as the Bucks and the Celtics in the Eastern Conference.
While it is obviously still very early, one can see this matchup with the Cs as a sort of litmus test for this group. Especially, since Boston just eliminated the Sixers in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
“Yeah. 100%,” said Tobias Harris. “I think they’ve been playing great basketball. So we’re gonna embrace this challenge and opportunity for us. We truly believe we have a great group here and a really good team and, obviously, we’re going to go up against the best and see where we stand. Just push ourselves to see where we are as a group and see also what areas we can get better.”
The Sixers and the Celtics will enter the matchup with a 5-1 record and they both have been terrific teams on the floor. Harris, who’s averaging 19.7 points and 6.0 rebounds while shooting 63.2% from the floor and 40% from deep, wants the Sixers to continue to be challenged here in the early going.
“We wanna be challenged and we wanna play and go up against the best teams and prove how good we are at the same time,” Harris added. “Obviously, coming in today, tomorrow we’ll be able to lock into the game plan and get what we wanna get across, but we got a great team, and I think everybody in here knows and understands that and we expect to win every game we step on that floor.”
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Along with Harris’ assessment, Nurse echoed something similar. The Sixers have been playing very well, but the five wins have come against the rebuilding Portland Trail Blazers and the Washington Wizards, the banged-up Phoenix Suns, and twice against the Toronto Raptors who are finding their way under a new head coach.
The Celtics will offer a real challenge for this group.
“Obviously, the standings say the two teams have played well,” said Nurse. “I know it’s six games in for each or something like that. I just look at it as this: It’s two teams with a lot of talent, two teams that are playing pretty good. We need the challenge. I keep saying that. I’m looking forward to the challenge to see what levels we go up in effort, intensity, concentration, execution — all those kinds of things.”