Boston Celtics to play Philadelphia 76ers in London as NBA season starts a little earlier

Last season’s Eastern Conference finalists Boston Celtics will face the Philadelphia 76ers in what promises to be one of the most anticipated NBA Global Games London encounters ever in January as the upcoming season goes through some changes.

The NBA Board of Governors approved a series of changes for the 2017-18 campaign, with the pre-season being cut down considerably. Veterans have to report for respective team duty by September 25 and the regular season itself commences on October 17, ten days before the usual start date.

The overall flow of the game will be noticeably quicker, with teams having seven timeouts instead of the usual nine per game and they may use just two timeouts in the last three minutes of a game rather than two in the last two minutes.

Next season will also see the end of 20-second timeouts, with the overall game time without overtime being around two hours, 15 minutes, which cuts eight minutes from the old rules.

“We were more focused here on the pace and flow of the game,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in Las Vegas.

“What we heard from our fans and heard from many of our teams was that the end of the games in particular were too choppy. I think since I was a kid, that’s an issue people have been talking about, the last two minutes of our game. We think these new changes will have a significant impact, especially at the end of the game. Overall, we’ve gone from 18 to 14 timeouts.”

Another major change will see the February trade deadline will now be the Thursday ten days prior to the All-Star Game rather than the Thursday four days after. This season’s deadline will be February 8.

It has been reported that the Boston Celtics will face the Philadelphia 76ers at the O2 Arena in London. The Celtics were the first NBA side to play at the iconic British venue back in 2007 when they faced the Minnesota Timberwolves in a pre-season friendly.

But for fans in the UK, who look forward to the NBA coming to the capital every January, they will be treated to a game that some might argue could be a nationally televised game in the U.S., given the new-found level of talent on offer.

According to the Boston Herald, the Celtics will take on the Sixers at the O2 Arena on Thursday, January 11 with stars such as Isaiah Thomas, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Dario Saric all potentially on show with number one overall pick Markelle Fultz and number three pick Jayson Tatum also involved.

The schedule for the coming season is expected to be released next month, with the Global Games fixtures potentially being announced prior to that.