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Celtics fans can - and will- deride the Phildelphia 76'ers for their blatant tanking and "The Process", but we cannot deny that they have some fine talent and the capacity to give Boston some trouble. The pieces seem to be in place for both teams, and their first confrontation takes place tomorrow night at TD Garden.


Count this rivalry, at least for now, as a somewhat friendly one. It has none of the bitter explosiveness of the Cleveland-Boston feud. But both teams are loaded with talent, and it will come down to player-health, coaching and fine-tuned chemistry. Actually, the battle has already started between Jayson Tatum and Joel Embiid with some light banter.



With Markelle Fultz slated to be in Philly's starting line-up, we get to see how the dynamic works between Fultz and fellow-starter, Ben Simmons. Both are great assist guys but certainly have not proven themselves as shooters from any distance. This will definitely be an ongoing experiment.

Filling out the starting line-up will no doubt be Embiid, Robert Covington and Dario Saric. The Celtics will probably counter with Al Horford, Tatum, Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown and Kyrie Irving. The 76'ers 2-point-guard squad may change quickly if the experiment fails, or if Brad Stevens chooses to challenge Fultz and Simmons to shoot from outside. Veteran marksman, J.J. Redick, will come off the bench and may end up finishing games for Philly.

As a former Chemical Engineer, I realize chemistry experiments can have explosive effects, but I don't see that happening with either Boston or Philadelphia. No General Manger or NBA coach wants a Jimmy Butler/Timberwolves situation. The 76'ers had a minor rumble from Bob Muscala, father of the 76'ers Mike Muscala, going way over the line with his portrayal of Butler's actions as ego-maniacal African American mental illness. Both Elton Brand and Mike Muscala handled the matter with true class.



I must admit, I generally like the players and front office staff of the Philadelphia 76'ers. With a few exceptions (see photos below), the Celtics-76'ers rivalry has been a hotly-contested one, but generally of a friendly nature.



Sam Jones told me personally that he and Wilt Chamberlain remained friends even after the infamous stool incident. And as a member of the Press Corps at the BIG3 League games this summer at TD Garden, I got to observe and listen to Julius Irving very closely, and he remains a true gentleman to this day. Solid rivalries can get heated at times, but should never escalate to the point of hatred and bitterness. It is nice to have this one back.

Follow Tom at @TomLaneHC and Facebook

Photos via Philly.com and Frank Gibbons

Tom Lane 10/15/2018 09:22:00 AM Edit
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