76ers without Embiid, Maxey, Batum in close loss to Celtics

BOSTON -- The Philadelphia 76ers found themselves extremely short-handed for Friday night's showdown with the Celtics at TD Garden, as reigning league MVP Joel Embiid sat out for a second straight game with an illness -- and was joined by rising star Tyrese Maxey (illness) and starting forward Nicolas Batum (finger).

Patrick Beverley, Marcus Morris Sr. and Paul Reed were inserted into the starting lineup in place of Maxey, Batum and Embiid. The Sixers hung around with the Celtics -- and even led at halftime -- before faltering down the stretch in a 125-119 loss.

Embiid, who missed Wednesday's loss at New Orleans due to the same illness, was not at shootaround Friday morning, the hope being that he would be able to play if he improved as the day progressed.

But 76ers coach Nick Nurse opened his pregame availability by saying that Embiid would not work out before the game and would sit out for the third time this season.

"I expect him to not play," Nurse said with a smile, when asked if Embiid not working out meant he wouldn't be suiting up.

Nurse initially said it was "60-40" that both Maxey, downgraded to questionable a couple of hours before tipoff, and Batum, who injured a finger on his right hand Wednesday, would play. But both players were eventually ruled out about 45 minutes before tipoff after going through pregame workouts.

There was one positive injury report from Nurse: Kelly Oubre Jr., who has been out since Nov. 10 after fracturing a rib in a hit-and-run car accident, will be "full go" for practice Monday, paving the way for him to return to game action Wednesday against the Wizards.

Nurse said the aim is just to get through Friday's game, with four days off to follow.

"We got to get everybody back," Nurse said. "I think that there's a number of things going on, and I think the biggest one is getting everybody through the sickness. ... Going to be much-needed practice days, getting ready to go into the next ... heavy schedule of games."