Ed Stefanski won't be able to ease into his first game as the 76ers' president and general manager.

Lost in all the hoopla surrounding Stefanski's hiring and Billy King's firing is the fact that the new-look Boston Celtics visit the 76ers tonight at the Wachovia Center.

If Stefanski wants to look for inspiration on how to turn a sagging team around, all he has to do is view the Celtics, who are 14-2 but were 24-58 last season.

Of course, adding Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to go with Paul Pierce has made the Celtics an Eastern Conference title contender. Garnett is averaging 19.4 points and 11.6 rebounds, Allen is at 20.1 points, and Pierce is averaging 21.1 points.

"I don't know if I am surprised by the start, but I would be a bit surprised if we didn't get off to a great start," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said in a telephone interview.

The Celtics have sold out their nine home games and are averaging 18,202 on the road, 94.7 percent of capacity.

According to a Sixers official, as of late yesterday afternoon, 14,300 tickets had been sold, which would provide the second-highest attendance since an opening-day crowd of 19,706 on Nov. 3, against New Jersey.

Rivers said he didn't foresee the energy Garnett and Allen would bring every night. "They are ready physically and mentally every game, and that is a great form of leadership for our team," he said.

The Celtics obviously haven't been burned by high expectations.

"What's hard is having high expectations and not really having a chance to achieve them," said Danny Ainge, the Celtics' director of basketball operations. "The players are excited about the expectations."

"I think the guys are really going to be up for that game," Sixers swingman Andre Iguodala said. "They have been playing really good basketball, and I think every team is looking to try to beat them."