Louisville, KY : Charron Elliott
Could Boston Vs. Philly Be Great Again?
The Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers have quite a history in their rivalry, especially during the 80s when Hall of Famers Julius Erving and Larry Bird were the center pieces of each franchise. Although it was before my time, I have seen my fair share of old clips showing just how intense that rivalry was with Dr. J and Larry literally coming to blows at one point. Fast forward to my generation when Paul Pierce and my favorite NBA player of all time, Allen Iverson also had their moments in the Boston Vs. Philly matchup during the early 2000s.
Now it’s 2017 and the 76ers, who basically have tanked NBA seasons since 2012, are finally looking good again with rookie forward Ben Simmons filling up stat sheets (17.8 ppg, 9.2 rpg., 7.7 apg.) and Joel Embiid proving that “the process” worked. Philly has a record of 8-6 good for fifth in the Eastern conference and in the Sixers win against the Lakers Tuesday night, Embiid put up a career-high 46 points, to go along with 15 rebounds, seven assists, and seven blocks.
The Sixers also recently resigned forward Robert Covington to a four-year 62 million dollar contract extension. Covington has been the Sixers most consistent three-point shooting threat (49.5 percent from 3) and he leads the team in effective Field goal percentage (65.8 percent). Simmons (21 ), Embiid (23), Covington (27), and rookie Markelle Fultz (19), who hasn’t been healthy all season, are all very young key components to a Philadelphia 76ers franchise that is looking to get over a five-year drought of not reaching the NBA playoffs.
The Celtics began this season in dramatic fashion, losing All-Star Gordon Hayward to a season ending injury in their first game against the Cavs on opening night. Boston lost that game and had one more loss the night after against the Bucks but since then the C’s have won 14 straight and currently hold the best record in the NBA.
The Celtics have gotten stellar play from All-star Kyrie Irving, who the Celtics traded for this off-season. Irving leads the team in scoring (23.6 ppg) and steals (2.1 spg.) Al Horford has also been playing well for Boston tallying an efficient True shooting percentage of 68.1 percent and averaging around 10 rebounds per game.
Perhaps the two biggest surprises for Boston have been the overall improvement of second year player Jaylen Brown and the play of rookie Jayson Tatum. In the Celtics impressive 92-88 win over the defending NBA champs the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night, Brown tied his career-high of 22 points and grabbed seven rebounds, as well as two blocks and two steals. Tatum has been shooting an efficient 48.9 percent from 3 and 49.7 percent from the field overall.
The Celtics also have the highest defensive rating in the NBA (95.4) and are leading the league in plus/ minus (+33). Boston defeated Philly 102-92 on October 20th at Wells Fargo Center, however, the two teams will meet up three more times this season and I am sure the Sixers will be better prepared for the C’s next time around.
With all of this being said, coming into the season I had Boston winning the East this year with Hayward, without him I think LeBron goes to the Finals one more time. However, this might be the last time the King is at the top of the mountain in the East as both Philly and Boston are coming sooner than later for the conference championship. We could be on the verge of a new chapter in the Celtics/ Sixers rivalry so in the words of the great boxing referee Mills Lane, “Let’s Get it on”!