The Sixers are capable of advancing, but Boston, though shorthanded, should be a formidable foe.
The two franchises will begin to create more memories Monday night when the Celtics host the Sixers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at 8 p.m. Monday in TD Bank Garden. The Sixers were led by Embiid's playoff career-high 31 points, 13 rebounds and five assists, plus 20 from J.J.
Kyrie Irving's season-ending knee surgery, which followed Gordon Hayward's gruesome broken leg, really hurts the Celtics at the offensive end, even with as second-year pro Jaylen Brown played against Milwaukee.
"A lot of people wanted it", Sixers coach Brett Brown said to Sixers.com about the series. The home team won every game in that series. Philly's 89-80 victory in the January 18 series finale featured Embiid going off for 26 points, 18 rebounds and six assists. He averaged 17.6 points in his seven games against the Bucks. Rookie forward Jayson Tatum can score, as evidenced by his 15.4-point average in the first round.
BC-BKN-76ers-Celtics, 1st Ld-Writethru, 640 Rozier (29 pts), Tatum (28) help Celtics beat 76ers 117-101AP Photo MAEA107, MAEA105, MAEA104, MAEA102, MAEA101Eds: Celtics 117, 76ers 101. Boston led by 6 after the first quarter and kept the resilient 76ers from taking the lead. Meanwhile, veterans JJ Redick, Marco Belinelli, and Ersan Ilyasova provided some timely shooting all series long. Joel Embiid missed the first two games of the series, but he returned to record 18.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per contest. The teams, which first met in the playoffs when the Sixers were the Syracuse Nationals (think Larry Costello), haven't met in the postseason since 2012 and have played twice since 1985. And what will happen next for the Sixers will be real, too.
The offensive abilities of Embiid and Simmons could present problems for the defensive-minded Celtics (as Embiid does with his low-post defense). I don't know who thought of that, but that was nice. Monroe is closer to Embiid's size than Horford, though Embiid's quickness and footwork figure to still be issues.
As my colleague John Tomase points out, Horford has a history of performing big in the playoffs.
And now, take away Jaylen Brown and the Celtics somehow still rally. Don't forget about the the #1 pick in the draft, Markelle Fultz who looks like he's slowly gaining confidence back in his game.
The Sixers temporarily lost their home-court advantage when they dropped Game 2 to the Heat. If you want to consider thorns in each other's sides, for Philly it was Boston's Sam Jones while Bird always considered Andrew Toney poison for the Celtics. "That's just part of the game, but at the end of the day, you know we talked after the game".
Two years after winning just 10 games, the Process is paying off for the 76ers. "For real, I liked that".