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Injured Markelle Fultz joined Sixers on road trip

The Celtics, who could have taken the oft-injured Markelle Fultz with the top pick in 2017 draft, instead traded the No. 1 selection to Philadelphia for the third pick, which turned out to a healthy and spectacular Jayson Tatum. Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

The 76ers have been dealing with the Markelle Fultz situation for most of the season and the former No. 1 overall draft pick joined the club for this road trip a few weeks after leaving the team to have his shoulder examined. The point guard was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome and it’s uncertain when or if he will return.

It’s been a massively disappointing career start for Fultz, who was once believed to be a Celtics target when they won the 2017 NBA draft lottery. Instead, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge traded the top pick to the 76ers for the third overall pick and a 2019 Sacramento Kings first-round pick.


The Celtics selected Jayson Tatum (23 points) with that third pick and he has flourished, turning into a potential franchise cornerstone. Fultz, meanwhile, has played in just 33 out of a possible 117 games because of injuries.

“It’s great to have him on the trip,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said. “In relation to what that means in getting back and playing basketball I do not know. It’s fantastic to have him on the trip.”

Fultz has struggled with his jump shot since joining the league, so much so that he has been shut down on multiple occasions to work on it.

Fultz and his agent, Raymond Brothers, decided to leave the team without prior consent from management, and have the shoulder examined.

“It’s good to say hello; it’s good to just talk with him,” Brown said. “You can tell speaking with him and looking at his face there is peace. What that means in relation to playing basketball with us, I don’t know.”

Sixers have work to do

After the Celtics soundly defeated the 76ers, 105-87, in the season opener for both teams on Oct. 16, All-Star center Joel Embiid (34 points) said that it’s not a rivalry until the 76ers start winning more matchups. Philadelphia lost last spring’s playoff series to the shorthanded Celtics in five games, despite being the favorite.


“At some point there has to be a need (to beat the Celtics),” Brown said. “Is it (Tuesday)? You hope so. We’re here to win, that’s for sure. The last (matchup) seems many, many years ago. Here we are again, the foundation is still the same, it’s Philadelphia against the Celtics and the memories don’t go away of the playoffs and opening night.

“I feel like that when we play against what I still consider NBA royalty, I don’t care what their record says. Their roster makes them an Eastern Conference contender, an NBA contender. So to play them, you always learn. Our summer was dictated by our loss to Boston. We will learn a lot after (Tuesday’s) game.”

Horford improving

Center Al Horford entered the Christmas Day game with no discomfort in his left knee.

Horford had 4 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists against the 76ers in slightly more than 30 minutes of play. His importance to the roster is unquestioned, considering the Celtics enjoyed a 119-103 blowout victory against the Charlotte Hornets last Sunday. Horford missed seven straight games with the knee injury before returning against Charlotte.

“Obviously he’s benefitted from the work he’s put in on his body over the last couple of weeks,” coach Brad Stevens said.


The 76ers went with Wilson Chandler (15 points) in the starting lineup at power forward to join Jimmy Butler (24 points) and Embiid in the frontcourt. Chandler did not play in the season opener . . . The Celtics wore their green uniforms with gold trim, called the “Earned Edition” for the first time this season while the 76ers wore white.


Gary Washburn can be reached at gwashburn@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GwashburnGlobe.