76ers Notes

BOSTON - Unlike the Celtics' deals two summers ago, nothing has fallen into place this year for the 76ers.

First it was a torn knee ligament for second-year center

Jason Smith

. Then it was the team's 9-14 start, followed by the firing of coach

Maurice Cheeks

and then the dislocation of leading scorer

Elton Brand

's right shoulder.

Last night, it was Boston's horrendous traffic.

Both of the Sixers' buses, traveling from the team's downtown hotel, were stuck in traffic and arrived late at TD Banknorth Garden. The second bus arrived at 6:45 p.m., just 45 minutes before tip-off against the NBA champions.

The Celtics, who in the summer of 2007 traded for

Kevin Garnett

and

Ray Allen

and then went on to take the NBA title, were 26-2 entering last night and on an 18-game winning streak. Their victory over the Sixers broke the franchise record for consecutive games won and gave Boston the best-ever two-loss start to an NBA season.

The Sixers were 12-15 and without

Willie Green

, who had been their starting shooting guard the last two weeks. Green aggravated his sore left ankle in Saturday night's loss to the Pacers.

In his place, new coach

Tony DiLeo

started little-used

Kareem Rush

. DiLeo said he preferred to keep

Lou

Williams

, one of the other options to start at shooting guard, as a spark off the bench.

"We wanted to see if Kareem can keep the floor spread," DiLeo said, adding that Rush could give the team a huge boost by knocking down a few three-pointers.

"Hopefully, that'll work for me," Rush said. "Knock down five or six. . . . I've been trying to stay ready."

Westbound

Last night's game was the first of a six-game trip, necessary because the Wachovia Center is booked with back-to-back Disney on Ice shows. The Sixers will travel west to face the Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers, then have stops against the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs on their way home.

- Kate Fagan