The Boston Celtics can throw (and have thrown) as much praise toward the Philadelphia 76ers as they would like, but somewhere beneath all the outward respect and admiration, they understand this second-round matchup was supposed to be more difficult.
That’s not to say the Sixers are pushovers — they defend like hell, share the basketball and feature waves of athletes flying around the perimeter. But the Celtics were supposed to be preparing to face the defending MVP and the league’s top-ranked defense on the road. Instead, they are at home against a team with no go-to guy that, just a few weeks ago, had reportedly started to tune out its coach.
Expect a series that’s somewhere on the ugly scale between “Kevin James eating cake and wearing a Speedo” and “Michael Sweetney rubbing suntan lotion all over his body.”
The Celtics are banged up, we know, and didn’t get any rest between series. But they could have had to travel to the United Center to meet Derrick Rose, Tom Thibodeau and one of the Eastern Conference’s fiercest front courts. Philadelphia is capable of beating the Celtics, but the path to the conference finals could have been significantly tougher.