76ers lack top talent depth to keep up with Celtics

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Australian big man Aron Baynes earned praise for his dominant second half, with National Basketball Association legend Charles Barkley calling for Celtics coach Brad Stevens to give the Boomer some more game time to provide better balance to the team. The Celtics would be starting with superstars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward on the floor for the first time since the inaugural game of last season, along with up and coming stars Jaylen Brown and Jason Tatum.

Meanwhile, the Sixers are a more experienced group since being eliminated 4-1 from title contention by the Celtics in the conference semi-finals past year.

So the Sixers want him to incorporate more of what they call "bully ball" into his game this season.

"We were talking the whole game", said Tatum.

Coach Brad Stevens admitted his team did struggle offensively to make shots but praised their all-round effort and believes their strength is truly in their depth. I felt when he was shooting the ball, they kept going under middle pick-and-rolls. "I had no intention of really restricting him minutes-wise, but it's probably not all bad to play 29 in that first one and get your feet underneath you and get ready to go from here".

Ultimately with Baynes, however, the offensive contributions are a mere complement to the defense and the physicality that the Australian brings to the court against the likes of Embiid and fellow countryman Ben Simmons. Six of his points came on the fastbreak which just underscores how much trouble he had getting clean looks in the halfcourt. As Brown said, the fact that Fultz was at least willing to take the jumpers the Bulls were giving him is important.

"Yeah, it definitely crossed my mind, especially warming up and running out through the tunnel", said Hayward.

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It didn't. In the first half of the NBA's season opener at the TD Garden, Irving took eight shots - and missed all of them. "It's inevitable he will have ups and downs".

Instead, the Sixers will have to wait until Christmas Day for their second meeting of the regular season with the Celtics, with hopefully better results to show they can in fact compete with their division rivals.

Last spring, Boston eliminated the Sixers in five games to improve to 13-7 against them.

Simmons had 12 triple-doubles last season and became the first player in franchise history to accomplish the feat in a home opener.

Before Tuesday's game, Simmons said he didn't consider the Celtics his team's biggest rival. "So for me, it's just more fire to work even harder and keep on improving".

"They were great", said Hayward.