Let’s preview the Sixers upcoming series against the Celtics, shall we?
Regular Season Edge: 76ers
Technically. The Sixers took the season series 2-1, blowing out the Celtics in the first game and winning again convincingly in the second. Once the Celtics got their season going, however, they were able to beat the Sixers convincingly at home. This was while the Sixers were in the middle of their nosedive, losing 10-14 games.
Defensive Edge: Celtics
Again, technically. The Bulls, Celtics, and Sixers finished 1-2-3 in the league in total team defense, all allowing under 90 points per game. The difference here is minuscule. Both teams have point guards and small forwards who are exceptional defenders for their positions. I give the edge to the Celtics who have a better interior defense with Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass. Ultimately, just know it’s going to be a tight series.
Point Guard: Celtics
I’ll take Rajon Rondo over most point guards in the NBA for the playoffs. He’s already posted 6 triple doubles in his 5 playoff seasons, good for 6th all-time. He’s got a ring. He has slowly become the best player on this aging team.
Shooting Guard: 76ers
You may think I’m crazy to pick against the NBA’s 3-point king, but I like the Sixers versatility from this position better than Allen’s now one dimensional game. Between Lou Williams and Evan Turner attacking the basket and Jodie Meeks’ ability to shoot from the outside, I think the Sixers 2-guards will have to be the difference in this series.
Small Forward: Even
Again, age is starting to creep in here. Paul Pierce clearly has been a better player in the past than Andre Iguodala, but the gap has closed dramatically since then. Iguodala was an All-Star this year because of his all-around game and leadership abilities. The guy gets out in transition better than almost anyone in the league and has been getting to the line consistently, especially in the 4th quarter. To be fair, if there’s one player in this series that I’d give the ball to at the end of the game, it’s Pierce.
Power Forward: Celtics
Age goes both ways in this one. Do I take an aging Elton Brand or an aging Kevin Garnett? I’ll take the former MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, and NBA champion. Garnett is playing the best basketball of his season in the playoffs. There’s really no one on the Sixers who matches up well against him. He can pull Spencer Hawes and Brand away from the basket and would kill Thaddeus Young on the low block. I expect Garnett to be the best Celtic in this series.
When’s the last time the Sixers have ever had a good enough center to win the matchup against anyone? Well right now the big white guy is the Sixers’ man for the job. Spencer Hawes has developed into a quality passer from the post, can shoot the 18 footer (and occasional three-pointer) and even gets out in transition. He does a little bit of everything for this team, and they rely on him to keep their half-court offense going.
Coaching Edge: Celtics
Doc Rivers has won a championship and been to another. No reason to pick Doug Collins against him–although Collins isn’t too shabby a coach himself. He turned this young, undisciplined Sixers team into an elite defensive unit. Really, both coaches would be a fine choice to lead your team.
Series Edge: Celtics
On paper, the Celtics are the ones who should come out victorious. The ultimate wildcard is the Sixers’ youth versus the Celtics age. If this turns into spry versus tired, edge Sixers. If this becomes undisciplined versus experience, edge Celtics.
Either way, it’s gonna be a great series.