Though the eighth-seeded Philadelphia 76ers facing the Atlantic Division-winning Boston Celtics may not be recognized nationally as an exciting series, you can be assured that locally both cities are equally excited for this series.
It pits one of the youngest teams in the NBA against the oldest. During the regular season, both teams went through phases where they were the talk of the NBA world before quickly becoming afterthoughts.
The 76ers were often criticized for being too young and not having a star they could depend on in the clutch and Boston was considered old. All-Stars like Rajon Rondo and future Hall of Famer Ray Allen were being rumored to be traded at the deadline, but offers were pulled back at the last minute.
The Celtics and 76ers both kept their teams intact and the Celtics won the division finishing fourth in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, the Sixers slipped, recovered and found themselves just making it in the in the final playoff spot.
Both teams will be looking to prove something, not only to themselves but to the NBA world.
The Celtics want to prove that they are still a dominant force. Hawks' co-owner Michael Gearon Jr., called Kevin Garnett a dirty player earlier in the week and afterward Garnett engineered one of his best playoff performances on Thursday with games highs of 28 points,14 rebounds, five blocks and three steals.
Andre Iguodala has been widely criticized by the Philadelphia fan base over his long career as a 76er but with clutch free throws and an outstanding first round performance against the Bulls, he is now getting some well-deserved accolades.
Who Wins the Eastern Conference Semifinals?
This series will be one of the more physical and defensive series of the postseason.
Boston has played Philadelphia three times and lost two out of three games and none of the games were close as the winner outscored the opponent by at least 13.
If the 76ers plan to win this series, they will have to rebound and make mid-range jumpers, things they struggled with against the Chicago Bulls. Elton Brand and Spencer Hawes will have to play lights out if they expect to beat Boston. Jodie Meeks will also have to find some consistency in his shot.
Boston can win this series if the Big Three of Allen, Garnett and Paul Pierce have great games. And if Rondo steps up like he has done in the past, his versatility will overpower the 76ers.
This is going to be a tough series for either team, but what’s easy in the NBA Playoffs?
Prediction: Celtics in 6.