Tonight, the Sixers begin their title pursuit in earnest, squaring off against the hated Boston Celtics at the friendly confines of the Wells Fargo Center. No more summer league, no more preseason, no more workout videos. No tune-up game.
Sixers-Celtics, game 1.
The rich history of the rivalry between these two teams is well-documented. From the fistfights between Dr. J and Larry Bird, all the way up to the 2018 playoffs, when the undermanned Celtics sent the too-young Sixers home packing after five games.
Last season, the two teams matched up to kick off the season as well, and that was no fun. The Celtics beat the Sixers (and starting guard Markelle Fultz) 105-87. On the season, the Celtics took three of four from Philly.
The Sixers now aim to assert their dominance over not only the Celtics, but the Eastern Conference at large. With a rejiggered starting lineup that now features shooting guard Josh Richardson and longtime Celtic Al Horford next to centerpieces Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris, the supersized Sixers have no excuse to deploy anything less than a wholly suffocating defensive unit.
Atop the Eastern Conference figures to be the Milwaukee Bucks and our Sixers, one way or another. Not too far behind however, will be the Celtics. This season, they return mainstays Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, $100 million man Jaylen Brown, and summer signee Kemba Walker. The former Charlotte Hornet finds himself in a plush situation in Boston, as he replaces enigmatic pseudo-philosopher Kyrie Irving, who jetted off to Brooklyn this past July. Kemba is an endlessly talented scorer who dropped 60 on the Sixers last season. Off the court, following the ordeal they went through with Kyrie, anytime Kemba so much as holds the door for someone, Boston faithful will be tempted to nominate him for the Nobel Peace Prize.
So, this is it. The beginning of a new season. Both squads enter healthy and determined to make a statement before embarking on the next 81.
Let’s go. Let’s lock all windows and doors, let’s turn garbage into gold. Let’s exorcise the demons we left in Toronto. Hold on, Alaa, we’re coming in for a landing.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Boston Celtics
When: 7:30 pm ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA.
Watch: ESPN | NBCSP
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic