How Do the Boston Celtics Match Up with the New-Look Philadelphia 76ers?
In Game 7 of the Celtics' series with the Miami Heat, Boston simply ran out of gas, possibly because it was the team's 20th game of the postseason.
The 76ers needed to take a risk heading into this year's offseason. Philly picked up Andrew Bynum in the blockbuster trade that featured Dwight Howard, giving it a legitimate top-two center for the first time in nearly 20 years, when Moses Malone was on the team's roster.
While the team did lose Andre Iguodala in the deal, the move does give more opportunities for Evan Turner to thrive and realize his enormous potential.
At the end of the day, the 76ers could be the biggest threat to Boston's quest to win yet another Atlantic Division title.
Let's see how these teams match up with each other. Each team's component is rated like a boxing match to see whether the 76ers or the Celtics will have an advantage next season.
Rajon Rondo over Jrue Holiday: 10-8
Avery Bradley and Evan Turner: EVEN
Paul Pierce over Dorell Wright: 10-8
Spencer Hawes over Brandon Bass: 10-9
Andrew Bynum over Kevin Garnett: 10-7
Celtics Bench over 76ers Bench: 10-9
Doc Rivers over Doug Collins: 10-9
Using this methodology, the Celtics still come out on top, despite the changes Philly made to its roster.
A perennial All-Star center like Bynum will definitely improve Holiday's assists and make him a better facilitator. However, Rondo is on a different level defensively and is still a much better passer and rebounder compared to Holiday.
In this case, Rondo has a huge advantage over the Holiday, a former UCLA point guard.
Bradley and Turner are similar players and defensive stalwarts. Over time, both will likely improve their offensive games, especially with the departures of Boston's Ray Allen and Philadelphia's Iguodala.
At the end of the day, their defensive and offensive capabilities cancel each other out, as neither player is significantly better or worse than the other.
While Wright is an above-average offensive threat, he is nowhere near Pierce's level. Pierce—dubbed "The Truth" by Shaquille O'Neal—brings a lot more to the table, and is a definite All-Star talent. Pierce posts a big advantage over Wright in this case.
The 76ers rally with their frontcourt, with Andrew Bynum leading the charge. Brandon Bass was a revelation for the Celtics last season and was a reliable 12-6 guy throughout the 2011-12 campaign. Garnett was even more impressive, especially in the postseason where he averaged 19.2 points and 10.3 rebounds.
Are the Philadelphia 76ers Boston's biggest threat in the Atlantic?
However, the Sixers have a lot more size on these two Celtics. Bynum will dominate Garnett with his array of post moves, even though Garnett is still an elite defender.
Hawes can use his 7-foot frame to out-muscle the smaller Bass, giving the 76ers a big advantage in the power forward position.
As they do against most teams, the Celtics have advantages on the bench and in the coaching categories.
The benches are closer than one might think, considering Philly has Thaddeus Young, Jason Richardson, Lavoy Allen, Arnett Moultrie and Nick Young in its second unit. This group is slightly worse than Boston's group, but deeper than most Eastern Conference favorites.
Doug Collins is a great basketball mind, but he is not on Doc Rivers' level as he has become one of the best coaches in the league.
Bringing Bynum did bridge the gap between the Sixers and Celtics quite a lot, considering that Kwame Brown was pegged as the starter before the trade. However, it seems as if Boston still reigns supreme in the Atlantic.
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