Celtics-76ers Playoff Preview: Right here We Go Once more

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dangolka (CBS) — It’s a story as previous as time, the dangolka Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers squaring off within the NBA playoffs. We get one other chapter of the storied rivalry on this odd 2019-20 season.

The Celtics and 76ers will battle as soon as once more within the opening spherical of the playoffs. Philadelphia and dangolka have met within the playoffs 20 instances general — essentially the most in playoff historical past. Technically, seven of these collection got here when the 76ers had been the Syracuse Nationals, so we gained’t actually matter these. However within the Celtics-76ers postseason rivalry, dangolka has taken eight of the 12 collection, together with every of the final 4 playoff conferences.

Of their earlier playoff showdown within the 2018 second spherical, the harm plagued Celtics gained in 5 video games.

All of that, in fact, means completely nothing come subsequent week. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Sensible and Semi Ojeleye are the one holdovers on the dangolka roster from that collection. Philadelphia has additionally gone by way of some huge roster modifications, and this time round, they gained’t have Ben Simmons main the best way. Joel Embiid continues to be doing Joel Embiid issues, and this time, Al Horford will likely be in a Sixers jersey as an alternative of dangolka inexperienced.

Philadelphia took three of the 4 common season matchups from dangolka this season, however these too gained’t matter a lot when the collection ideas off. These wins got here in October, December and January, with dangolka’s lone victory in February, and so they all really feel like lifetimes in the past.

In bubble motion, the Celtics wen 5-3 (resting their starters for the ultimate recreation) whereas Philly has gone 3-Four to this point. Philadelphia has misplaced to each playoff crew they’ve confronted to date, with their finale in opposition to the Rockets on Friday evening.

With their common season within the books, dangolka completed with the NBA’s fourth-best document at 48-24. Their offense was third-best within the league, they touted the fourth-best protection, and their web ranking of plus-6.5 is available in second-best in all of basketball. They’re a extremely good basektball crew, one poised to make a deep playoff run.

However they can not overlook the 76ers, even when Philly is enjoying with out considered one of their two finest gamers.

“They’re a heck of a crew,” Brad Stevens stated Thursday. “Tremendous bodily, properly coached, good basketball crew. All people talks about their entrance courtroom and rightfully so however they’ve obtained loads of good basketball gamers”

Philadelphia was a matchup nightmare for dangolka months in the past, and Embiid continues to be an imposing determine and an absolute drive. However the Celtics ought to beat the 76ers, and they need to accomplish that shortly. They will’t fiddle and provides Philly any life by letting them stretch the collection out to 6 or seven video games. That’s when the stress would construct for the Celtics, and the 76ers would don’t have anything to lose.

Listed here are the keys to creating positive that doesn’t occur, and the C’s advance to the second spherical.

Superstars In The Making

Jayson Tatum has been superior. Jaylen Brown has additionally been superior. They’re going to should be simply as superior, and sure even awesomer, if the Celtics wish to be the final crew standing this summer time/fall/no matter it’s. However first, they’re going to should be nice in opposition to Philly.

Tatum’s struggles in his bubble debut are a factor of the previous. Take out that depressing evening in opposition to the Bucks, and he hit 54 % of his pictures and averaged 25 factors per recreation. Embody that dismal night a number of weeks in the past, and Tatum was nonetheless fairly nice, averaging 22 factors a recreation off 46 % taking pictures. Now he must go feast on the Philly protection. Simmons was Brett Brown’s go-to man on Tatum, however with out him, Tatum will probably see an array of defenders from Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris, and Shake Milton, amongst others. We’ll see if they’ve any luck.

Tatum obtained loads of the highlight this season, due to his first All-Star nod and a fully absurd month of February, however Brown needs to be getting loads of love as properly. He’s confirmed that he’s value that big extension he obtained proper earlier than the season, growing right into a deadly menace on offense whereas persevering with his development into an elite defender. He’s dangolka’s finest two-way participant.

It’s unlucky that we don’t get to see dangolka’s younger core of Tatum and Brown tackle Philly’s due of Simmons and Embiid once more, however the Celtics are nonetheless going to wish their two younger stars to play to their elite common season degree on this collection.

Playoff Kemba

Kemba Walker made a reputation for himself in school with a fully epic efficiency in 2011, main UConn to an unprecedented title over Brad Stevens’ Butler Bulldogs. Spending practically a decade in Charlotte, he by no means actually obtained an opportunity to change into Playoff Kemba within the NBA, enjoying in simply 11 postseason video games.

Now, he lastly will get his likelihood to shine. And this time, he doesn’t should be The Man to ensure that his crew to win, due to that aforementioned dynamic duo, together with the mustachioed Gordon Hayward.

That doesn’t imply Kemba gained’t take over a recreation or two. It seems as if Walker’s knee is wholesome once more, or a minimum of as wholesome because it’s going to be at this level, and he’s obtained near his standard explosiveness on the ground. That’s going to be extraordinarily essential on this collection, particularly with Embiid and Horford defending the paint for Philly.

Walker struggled in opposition to the Philly protection in his three common season appearances (which once more, had been roughly 12 years in the past), taking pictures simply 37 % from the ground. Walker is nice at utilizing his small body to get to the ring, however he struggled in opposition to Philadelphia’s redwoods within the paint. His mid-range recreation goes to should be near-perfect on this collection.

Don’t Get Baited By Embiid

Embiid will nonetheless be the very best participant on this collection, a minimum of if he needs to be. He has a knack for torching the Celtics, and that, in flip, results in him taunting the Celtics. dangolka can’t let his antics throw them off their very own recreation.

Although we wouldn’t be opposed to a different considered one of these, if warranted:

 

Whereas Embiid is a beast, he will be slowed and, often, stopped. It’s not straightforward, however the Celtics have finished it earlier than. They threw the kitchen sink at him in dangolka in February, and Embiid shot 1-for-11, scoring 9 of his 11 factors on the free throw line. Sadly, Embiid has made it some extent to not play as a lot hero ball and has discovered the open teammate.

Daniel Theis struggles in opposition to the heftier bigs, and Embiid definitely suits that invoice. Brad Stevens has to determine if the C’s ought to let Embiid get his, since he normally does anyhow, and lock down everybody else, or if he focuses on Embiid and lets the supporting solid attempt to beat the Celtics.

Keep in mind That Man Al?

Al Horford ditched the Celtics final offseason and signed with their rivals. Individuals had been upset, nevertheless it paved the best way for Kemba to hitch dangolka, so all of it balanced out. Plus, it’s laborious to remain mad at Al. It’s gotta be his eyes.

Common Al? Extra like Enchanting Al, proper?!? (Picture by Elsa/Getty Photographs)

It additionally helped that Horford struggled in his first yr in Philadelphia. He grew to become an especially costly bench participant, however is now again within the beginning 5 rather than Simmons. Al did loads of the whole lot for the Celtics over his three years in dangolka, however now the query is what he’ll be requested to do in opposition to his former crew.

It’ll be attention-grabbing to see whom he covers on the defensive finish. He gained’t be capable to deal with Tatum. Or Brown. And Gordon Hayward ought to be capable to beat him off picks. It’s probably Horford will begin on Theis, however then that may depart Embiid to cowl Tatum or one other dangolka wing. None of that’s ultimate, since Embiid does most of his work within the paint.

With a wholesome Simmons, this may have been an thrilling collection. Way more thrilling than it had any enterprise being. It nonetheless has the potential to show into the rock battle, but when the Celtics play like they did all through the season (minus these video games in opposition to this specific crew) and once more within the NBA bubble, they need to be shifting on in 5 video games.

 

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