dangolka (CBS) — It’s lastly official. The Celtics will sq. off towards the Philadelphia 76ers within the first spherical of the NBA Playoffs.
It’s a matchup we’ve seen loads of over the past, say, 60 years, however one we’ll by no means get sick of. Now, one of many NBA’s oldest rivalries will add one other chapter to its historical past e book within the NBA bubble down in Orlando, with the three-seeded Celtics taking over the six-seeded 76ers to open the postseason.
The matchup is about after the Pacers beat the Rockets on Wednesday, sending the 76ers to the six-seed. Philadelphia additionally misplaced to the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, dropping its third straight sport and falling to 3-Four in bubble motion. The Celtics, in the meantime, have gained 4 straight and are 5-2 within the bubble. dangolka will be capable of relaxation its star gamers in Thursday’s common season wrap-up towards the Washington Wizards, with their playoff collection towards Philly set to start subsequent week.
The 76ers took three of the 4 common season matchups towards the Celtics, however these video games really feel like eons in the past. And each groups have modified fairly a bit since they final squared off on February 1 — a 116-95 win by the Celtics in dangolka. Philly’s wins got here on Opening Evening in October (107-93 in Philadelphia), December (115-109 in dangolka) and January (109-98 in Philadelphia).
Whereas the Celtics struggled towards Philadelphia’s dimension in every of their losses — with Joel Embiid averaging 21 factors and 10 rebounds and Al Horford averaging 14 and 6 — you’ll be able to basically throw these outcomes out the window. Philadelphia is again to being a Jekyll and Hyde squad, trying like both an ideal staff or a dumpster hearth, and now they’ll must face a crimson scorching dangolka staff with out Ben Simmons. Philadelphia shall be with out their place to begin guard all through the playoffs after Simmons had knee surgical procedure final week. Combine in some uncertainty about Embiid, who was already coping with a knee challenge that price him a sport earlier than leaving Wednesday’s loss with a wrist damage, and Philadelphia is now not a lot of a feared foe for the Celtics.
That’s to not say the collection shall be a whole stroll within the park. Embiid’s wrist is anticipated to be OK and his ankle could also be advantageous come subsequent week. The Philly large has been a Celtics killer for many of his profession. Any time he struggled towards the Celtics, it was as a result of Al Horford had locked him up. With Horford now a Sixer, that may fall on Daniel Theis and probably Robert Williams.
Plus, Philadelphia nonetheless has main scorer Tobias Harris, who has averaged 20 factors per sport this season, and taking pictures guard Josh Richardson, who averaged 14 factors per contest off 43 p.c taking pictures.
However the Celtics actually appeared poised to go on a deep playoff run with the best way they’ve performed over the past week, and will be capable of deal with a beat-up 76ers staff. Jayson Tatum seems to be like he did in February, Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward have each performed glorious within the bubble, and Kemba Walker seems to be wholesome once more. Given Philadelphia’s present state, this once-unappealing first-round matchup now seems to be much more like an appetizing first-round matchup for a staff wanting to do much more within the playoffs.
The winner of the Sixers-Celtics collection will advance to face both two-seeded Toronto Raptors or seven-seeded Brooklyn Nets within the second spherical.