The NBA has a long history of playing games internationally in order to promote its burgeoning product. The 2017-18 season has been no exception, as the Brooklyn Nets, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Miami Heat have already played games in Mexico City.
On Thursday, the NBA will bring its game overseas.
London will be treated to a marquee game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics. The Sixers are one of the league’s most talented young teams, while the Celtics head to London with the best record in the Eastern Conference.
Both teams have missed players but have responded well. The Sixers have been without the services of No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz, who is still recovering from a shoulder injury. Meanwhile, the Celtics have competed without Gordon Hayward, their prized free agent acquisition, for all but five minutes this season.
This is the eighth time the NBA has hosted a game in London. So far, the Celtics have beaten the Sixers twice this year.
The players have bought into the pageantry of the event, though, which further sells the games to a global audience. “When the fans are cheering, and I'm talking (junk), it's fun," Philadelphia center Joel Embiid told The Sun. "I hope Celtics fans boo me because that makes me raise my game and want to kick other people's (butts)."
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was complimentary toward the Sixers, noting their improvement. Currently, the Sixers sit at 19-19, good for ninth in the Eastern Conference. The Sixers are on the precipice of the playoff hunt, however–where they are just a half game out of the eighth seed.
Keep it here on AXS.com for more NBA news and tickets to select games.