TEAM RECORDS: Boston Celtics (39-27) vs Philadelphia 76ers (35-31)
SEASON SERIES: Philadelphia 76ers (2-1)
LAST SERIES: (4) Boston Celtics defeated (5) Atlanta Hawks in 6 games / (8) Philadelphia 76ers defeated (1) Chicago Bulls in 6 games
KEY MATCHUP: Rajon Rondo vs Jrue Holiday
The Philadelphia 76ers are shipping off to Boston. If not for some key injuries by the Chicago Bulls in the first round, the 76ers would (more than likely) not be in the situation they currently find themselves in.
That doesn’t matter now. Philadelphia will now play the role of underdog for the second straight series in hopes of knocking off a more battle-tested and experienced basketball team in the Boston Celtics.
Calling the 76ers a less experienced team may be a bit of an understatement. Of the rosters main stars, only Elton Brand has made it out of the opening round.
This series will be a great chance for some of the young talent on this team to compete in some meaningful playoff basketball for the first time.
Keep a lookout for Sixers guard Jrue Holiday in this one. He averaged 17.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists against Chicago. He only turned the ball over 10 times in 6 games. To be fair, he went up against C.J Watson and John Lucas III for a majority of the games, but those are still great numbers to build on.
Going up against Rajan Rondo will be a whole different experience after facing backup point guards in the opening round. Rondo averaged 16.2 points and 11.8 assists against the Atlanta Hawks. This is Holidays chance to prove that his name belongs alongside the upper echolon of point guards in the NBA with a guy like Rondo.
Boston will need Paul Pierce to continue at his current pace against the Sixers. Paul averaged 21.3 points against Atlanta and channeled his inner “Tebow” to boot. With Ray Allen still hurting and Kevin Garnett constantly needing rest, Pierce will be relied upon yet again this round to handle the scoring load for the green and white.
The regular season meetings offer little to offer in the form of prediction building analysis. The 76ers blew out Boston on 2 occasions on days where the Celtics played the previous night. Boston then blew out Philadelphia 103-79 back in April. It basically cancels itself out.
THE 76ERS WILL WIN THIS SERIES IF the young players on the roster can stay motivated and focused on the task at hand. Defeating the #1 seed Chicago Bulls (even with the injuries to Rose and Noah) was a huge victory in itself, but the team can’t stop there. We have yet to see if the Sixers will suffer from “emotional fatigue” after their series victory over the Bulls, but hopefully that won’t be the case. Maybe they will strike gold yet again and have a member of “the big three” go down with an injury. I hate to wish harm on another human being, but I’m sure Philadelphia will take any advantage they can at this point.
THE CELTICS WILL WIN THIS SERIES IF they can continue their success on the defensive end. Boston held Atlanta to under 87 points in all 6 opening round games. Facing a weak offensive team in the 76ers will certainly help their cause. Even with Derrick Rose and Noah missing most of the series, Philadelphia only broke the 92 point mark on one occasion against Chicago. Boston doesn’t exactly have the most reliable offense in the league with all of their aging stars and lack of depth off the bench, so their ability to hold the 76ers to low-scoring outputs will be a big factor moving forward.
FUN FACT: In Boston’s opening round series against Atlanta, only 6 players (Pierce, Garnett, Rondo, Allen, Bass, Bradley) averaged more than 17 minutes of action a game.
Game 1 : Saturday, May 12 – Philadelphia at Boston, 8 p.m. ET (TNT)
Game 2 : Monday, May 14 – Philadelphia at Boston, 7 p.m. ET (TNT)
Game 3 : Wednesday, May 16 – Boston at Philadelphia, 7 p.m. ET (TNT)
Game 4 : Friday, May 18 – Boston at Philadelphia, TBD (ESPN)
Game 5 : Monday, May 21 – Philadelphia at Boston, TBD (TNT)
Game 6 : Wednesday, May 23 – Boston at Philadelphia, TBD (ESPN)
Game 7 : Saturday, May 26 – Philadelphia at Boston, TBD (TBD)
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports