Throwback: Sixers-Celtics ready to tangle

This was once the image of the NBA's greatest rivalry. Will today's Sixers and Celtics live up to the hype?

It’s a basketball rivalry that’s been dormant for a decade, if not three.

But if the 76ers continue the high-level of play they displayed against the top seeded team in the Eastern Conference, there is no doubt that, say, 10 days from now, Philly and Boston will once again be at each other’s respective throats with a trip to the conference finals hanging in the balance. Game 1 is Saturday night at TD Garden in Boston (8 p.m., TNT).

3 things to look for this series:

Battle of the boards

While Spencer Hawes vs. Ryan Hollins won’t conjure up memories of Wilt vs. Russell anytime soon, the war in the paint is one that Philadelphia can and should win.

Dating back to the 2010 NBA Finals against the Lakers, in which the Celtics were just second away from grabbing their 18th championship banner, Boston has struggled mightily on the glass.

Moving Kevin Garnett to center this season has helped the offensive flow and has improved the overall team defense, but the C’s often let easy rebounds fall to the opposition.

Al Horford and even the corpse of Erick Dampier exploited Boston in the rebounding battle last series.

Fresh legs

The Sixers exploited the injured Bulls with youth and explosiveness. The youthful backcourt trio of Evan Turner, Jru Holiday and Lou Williams all scored in the double-digits in Philly’s dramatic Game 6 victory over Chicago.

Boston, meanwhile, has looked creaky at times this postseason. In Game 5 in Atlanta, Paul Pierce was a shell of the player we saw in Game 2 of the Hawks series. He had reportedly suffered a sprained MCL.

Pierce looked much better in Game 6, scoring 18 points. But perhaps the most telling part about the small forward’s stat line was the fact that he played 40 minutes in the game, more than any other Boston player.

Regular season success

The Sixers gave Boston fits during the 2011-12 regular season, winning the season series, 2-1.
Philly scored 93.7 ppg over the three games, compared to Boston’s 86.7. The biggest advantage for the Sixers was the difference in points in the paint, as Doug Collins’ crew posted 41.3 to the Celts’ 28.0.

The Sixers torched Boston in Philly, 103-71, back on March 7 as Turner posted 26 points. Boston’s excuse for the lackluster effort was a good one, however, as it had played five games in seven nights that week.


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