Celtics-76ers Preview

The Philadelphia 76ers were forced to wait one more day in a bid for their first win streak this season, and that extra time might have provided a chance to get two ailing starters healthier.

Nerlens Noel and JaKarr Sampson could suit up Sunday night when the 76ers also try to end a six-game skid against the Boston Celtics.

With Winter Storm Jonas slamming the East Coast, the NBA chose to postpone this game at the Wells Fargo Center 24 hours.

The 76ers (6-38) are looking to build on their 96-87 win in Orlando on Wednesday, their second victory in three games. They prevailed despite losing Noel for the second half because of a headache and blurred vision.

"I had it a little bit last year, a couple headaches. They last a few days, but I don't think it's a big deal," Noel said. "I'm ready to play."

Sampson played just seven-plus minutes due to a hip pointer, but Philadelphia shot 48.6 percent and hit 9 of 19 from 3-point range. Jahlil Okafor had 20 points on 9-of-17 shooting and is averaging 21.7 while connecting at 62.0 percent in his last three games.

"This team is just growing up and this is a huge step for us as far as closing out games down the stretch," guard Ish Smith said. "I can name numerous games that we would have won if we would have closed it the right way."

The 76ers have aided their cause by averaging 13.8 turnovers in their last four games, 4.5 fewer than in their first 40 contests. They nearly earned two other wins in that stretch but fell in overtime to Chicago on Jan. 14 and double overtime at New York on Monday.

Philadelphia now faces one of the NBA's best teams at forcing turnovers in Boston (16.8 per game), and the Celtics (23-21) pressed Chicago into 20 miscues in a 110-101 victory Friday.

Boston has been dealing with travel uncertainty ahead of its attempt to build on that win and earn just its second in seven road games. The Celtics practiced at their facility Saturday while waiting to head to Philadelphia and reportedly will travel for the game Sunday morning.

"We've been pretty much on call for whenever the runways get cleared and they can get people out there, when buses can get on the roads and everything else," coach Brad Stevens said.

Marcus Smart said he didn't think it would affect the team's attitude heading into its pursuit of a third straight win at Philadelphia and fifth in the last six visits there.

"I don't think it's a challenge. Everybody here has played summer ball or AAU. It's kind of what this is. Wake up, drive to the game and play," he said.

Boston is making its first trip to the Wells Fargo Center this season after beating Philadelphia twice at home. Isaiah Thomas had 57 points on 21-of-40 shooting in those two wins, and he scored 30 in the most recent meeting, an 84-80 victory Nov. 25.

Okafor is averaging 22.5 points in his two games against the Celtics. He was involved in a fight at a Boston nightclub after the latest loss in the series and was later suspended for two contests.

The 76ers haven't won back-to-back games since taking home victories over Detroit and New York from March 18-20, which was also their most recent home win streak.


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