- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Brandon Bass and the Celtics tangle with the 76ers on Monday night.Five months after an exciting seven-game playoff series, the Boston Celtics and new-look Philadelphia 76ers joust in the first of at least six meetings this season (two exhibition; four regular season). Here's what we'll be watching for in a matchup of Atlantic Division foes:
* EYES ON LINEUPS: Big-splash offseason acquisition Andrew Bynum has been held out of training camp for Philadelphia while rehabbing his right knee, but the 76ers' size might allow Celtics coach Doc Rivers to get a longer look at some of his bigger lineups. Maybe this is a night where we see more of the Kevin Garnett (if he suits up) and Darko Milicic pairing, particularly after the Knicks went small Saturday and forced Rivers to limit Milicic's minutes. Rivers also liked what he saw from the Paul Pierce-Jeff Green pairing and said the team can go big (with two other forward/centers) or small (with Rajon Rondo and another shooting guard), so expect more mixing and matching around those two.
* DEFENDING THE PICK-AND-ROLL: Two areas of concern from last season -- defending the pick-and-roll and opponent offensive rebounds -- reared their ugly heads Saturday night against the Knicks. Rivers put the blame on his guards for Boston's woes and expect a heavy emphasis to be put on cleaning that up entering Monday's game.
* HOME FOR CHRISTMAS: It's a homecoming for Dionte Christmas, a Philadelphia native who played his college ball at Temple. Christmas actually latched on with the 76ers' summer league team after going undrafted in 2009 and earned a camp invite with the team, but was cut before the start of the regular season. After spending the past few years overseas, Christmas is back competing for a final spot with Boston and -- fresh off being the official Philly cheesesteak tour guide -- he will have some extra incentive with friends and family filling up the Wells Fargo Center.
* CHANCE FOR YOUNGER PLAYERS: The Celtics have three games in the next four days, including a back-to-back looming Tuesday when Brooklyn visits TD Garden. Expect Rivers to balance minutes, which could mean an extended look for Christmas and the end-of-the-roster types the next couple nights. Younger players competing for a final spot (like Kris Joseph and Jamar Smith) could really help their causes if they can take what they've shown in practice and carry it over to game situations. If Garnett doesn't dress, this might also be a chance for a young big man like Fab Melo to get extended court time.
Your turn: What will you be watching for tonight? Sound off in the comments.
5dMatt Walks, ESPN.com
6dESPN Stats and Information Group