Ohhhhhh baby. Sixers vs. Celtics. Philly (Super Bowl Champs) vs. Boston (Tom Brady fumbled). Game 1, NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals. Here it is. This level of excitement is seldom matched. I have done nothing today but think on this series.
I was but a dream during the ferocious ‘80s rivalry between these two franchises - no more than an energy floating through Rust Cohle’s visions, awaiting my call into reality, which would not arrive for another decade. But it’s simple for me to understand the animosity still festering from as far back as Wilt vs. Russell. I. Don’t. Like. Boston (sports). And today, right now, we await the tip off of what could be a rivalry renewed with the same desire for domination that possessed our forefathers. Will the Sixers fulfill our bloodlust?
The season series between the Sixers and Celtics drew a 3-1 result in favor of the Celtics. But we need not concern ourselves with the battles of the past; these two teams facing off tonight in the TD Garden have ventured from their previous routes and found a new highway to the Eastern Conference Finals. For the Celtics, that means carrying on without their leader, Kyrie Irving. For the Sixers, that means a Ben Simmons that has seemingly aged 5 basketball seasons since January, and a bench unit that fears no one.
So far (the Heat series), the Sixers’ talent has won out against a veteran tactician in Erik Spoelstra. But tonight’s Game 1 brings an onslaught of new matchups that will test the Sixers maturity: Brett Brown vs. Brad Stevens, the Sixers temperament vs. Marcus Smart (he’s instigator, that one), the Sixers transition offense vs. a Celtics defense that stymied the Bucks’ fastbreak opportunities. The list goes on. It’s no secret: this version of the Celtics is less talented than the Sixers, but they — dare I say — play the game the right way.
Game 1 will bring answers, and many more questions. How will Player X adapt? Will Coach A change his rotation? How does the return of Player Y affect the series moving forward? But tonight, I don’t concern myself with tedious analysis. Now, I wait in anticipation of the type of series that makes one fall in love with basketball in the first place. Tonight, I watch as no more than a fan, allowing biases and uncontrollable rage to affect my perceptions. This is the moment we’ve been waiting for. F*ck Boston. Start the show.
Time: 8:00 pm
Place: TD Garden, Boston
Listen: 97.5 the Fanatic
Vegas: -4.5 Sixers