No. 2 Boston Celtics vs. No. 3 Philadelphia 76ers
5pm - TNT
These teams first ran into each other back in 1953. Fitting then that the rebirth of both franchises leads them into each other. 1953 is well before my time, but there were also more showdowns, most notably the classic ‘80’s series that gave us the picture at the top of this article.
Much like the tiniest, toughest creature on the planet (the tardigrade), this rivalry has emerged from a hibernation so long that many fans may have forgotten about it and assumed it was dead.
But nope. This actually looks like the future of the Eastern Conference.
This isn’t the Celtics team that Danny Ainge built in the offseason - but we’ll have to see how much that matters
The Philadelphia 76ers are legit. They’ve got the top end talent in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and the role players and scheme to make it exceptionally hard for opponents to overload on them, defensively.
Most people had these guys pegged as “up-and-comers,” a good team that would need a year or two to develop and gel before becoming a threat.
The Celtics were the opposite end of the spectrum, a team that had finally brought in enough talent to maximize their astute positioning via drafts and trades since fleecing the New Jersey Nyets out of all of their draft picks in exchange for old man Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
Sadly, their ascendant rise was brought crashing down to Earth in the first game of the season when Gordon Hayward went down. Defying all the prognosticators, the Celtics still managed to fight their way into the #2 seed in the East - even after Kyrie Irving was shut down midway through the season to address lingering knee problems.
So clearly, the Celtics are still balling. You can’t even pin it on one thing: Al Horford is good, but not that good. The team has a young, talented core, excellent coaching, and a willingness to play disciplined basketball on both ends of the court.
I’m think Philly takes this series in 6.
Who you got?