BOSTON - There will be a couple of impressive records on the line tonight as the 76ers play the streaking Boston Celtics.
And both are Boston's to shoot for.
The Sixers and Celtics play at 7:30 at TD Banknorth Garden. With a victory, Boston (26-2), which has won 18 consecutive games, will break the franchise record for wins in a row, as well as the NBA mark for the best start by a team with two losses.
Coincidentally, the 1966-67 Sixers and 1969-70 New York Knicks - on Sunday, the Celtics beat the Knicks in their most recent game - share the record. Both went on to win NBA titles.
The 1966-67 Sixers were 7-1 and 15-2 before setting the mark at 26-2. That team was led by Wilt Chamberlain and Hal Greer.
Boston's 1981-82 team, which featured Larry Bird, Robert Parish and Kevin McHale, recorded 18 straight wins.
The new "Big Three" - Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen - have the Celtics playing the NBA's best basketball. The Celtics have not lost since Nov. 14, at home to Denver. One of their 18 straight wins was a 102-78 dismantling of the Sixers on Nov. 28.
Since that game, the Sixers are 5-6, have fired head coach Maurice Cheeks, and have lost their leading scorer, Elton Brand, to a dislocated right shoulder.
Tonight's game will also be the start of a brutal road swing for the Sixers that also consists of games against Denver, Utah, the Los Angeles Clippers, Dallas and San Antonio.
On Saturday night, the Sixers lost, 95-94, to Indiana in the final seconds.
The home loss was noteworthy for a number of reasons. It was the first loss under new coach Tony DiLeo, the Pacers dressed only nine players as a result of illness and injuries, and a victory would have been nice because the Sixers don't play again at home until after the New Year.
"Playing Boston, we have to go out there and match their effort and intensity," small forward Thaddeus Young, who started in place of Brand, said after the loss to the Pacers.
Shooting guard Willie Green, who turned his sore left ankle in the first half Saturday and did not return, did not practice yesterday. Whether he plays tonight will be a game-time decision.