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Sixers shift focus to bounce-back game against Bulls after lackluster effort in Boston

Sixers didn't look like they made any improvements since last season.

Sixers coach Brett Brown yells against the Boston Celtics on Tuesday, October 16, 2018 in Boston.
Sixers coach Brett Brown yells against the Boston Celtics on Tuesday, October 16, 2018 in Boston.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

The 76ers wants folks to relax.

They are attributing Tuesday's season-opening blowout loss to the Boston Celtics to them trying to find a rhythm.

"To me, it was not an untypical type of night at the start of season a first game, a typical type of first game," Sixers coach Brett Brown said of the 105-87 loss at TD Garden. "We look forward to trying to grow this and get healthy."

The Sixers will look to ease some of the sting of their opening-night  loss  when they play their home opener on Thursday night the Chicago Bulls at the Wells Fargo Center.

Chicago will start rookie center Wendell Carter Jr. over 11th-year veteran Robin Lopez. Carter will be joined by Kris  Dunn, Justin Holiday, Bobby Portis and Zach LaVine in the starting lineup. Jabari Parker, whom the Bulls signed to a two-year, $40 million free-agent contract this summer, will back up Bobby Portis at forward.

Chicago, which finished 27-55 last season, will be without standout small forward Lauri Markkanen (right high-grade lateral elbow sprain).

The Sixers also have their share of injuries. The team's two biggest offseason veterans additions in reserve center Mike Muscala (sprained right ankle) and Wilson Chandler  (strained left hamstring) are expected to remain sidelined for a couple more weeks. It will be the same with reserve guard Jerryd Bayless (sprained left knee), and rookie Zhaire Smith (Jones fracture in left foot) is out until December.

The missing players would have helped to make the Sixers a more formidable foe against Boston.  But probably not formidable enough to beat the Celtics on their home court. The team had a disheartening effort while dropping three of the last 11 games to the Celtics dating back to the start of the 2016-17 season. On Tuesday night, it was clear the Celtics were better than a Sixers squad that made just 5 of 26 three-pointers, had terrible spacing, committed 16 turnover and was routinely torched on defense.

Second-year guard Markelle Fultz struggled mightily in 24 minutes, 20 seconds of action while shying away from shooting from the outside. The guard also saw just 3:13 of action the third quarter before sitting out the fourth quarter.

>> READ MORE: Markelle Fultz was looking for a place to hide against Celtics, hide him on the bench | Marcus Hayes

It became obvious that he and Ben Simmons cannot play together in the backcourt due to both being a non-shooter. The Celtics basically sagged on defense whenever those guys were on the floor together.

Meanwhile, the Sixers' new defensive look is still a work in progress. Weeks ago, the team said Joel Embiid would be stationed close to the basket while the other four players would guard the three-point line. However, Boston was able to take advantage of mismatches with Embiid defending guards on the perimeter after switches. He's no good to the Sixers that far out from the basket.

Overall, the Sixers didn't look like they made any improvements since last season.

Simmons said Philadelphia needs to improve on everything. But he didn't seem too concerned following the game.

"I think it just takes time," Simmons said. "Got to knock the rust off, especially with the season starting. It's a lot different than the preseason."