May: Celtics-76ers Rivalry Needs a Rebuild on Both Sides

celticsbigthreeLess than 14 months ago, the Philadelphia 76ers were four minutes away from a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. Four players remain from that team.

Less than 14 months ago, the Boston Celtics were one win away from a trip to the NBA Finals. Two players remain from that team.

The Celtics prevailed against Philadelphia on that Saturday in May, 2012, with Rajon Rondo recording a triple-double after Paul Pierce fouled out with 4:16 to play and the Celtics clinging to a three-point lead. It remains the last playoff game played by the 76ers, who failed to make the postseason in 2013 and appear headed in a similar direction for 2014, 2015 and maybe longer.

The Celtics succumbed to the Knicks in the first round in 2013 and are starting over in a big way. Rondo and Brandon Bass are the only two players on the roster who were active for Game 7 of the Philadelphia series. The Celtics are no longer perceived as a threat in the East, at least not in the near future.

The Eastern Conference’s best and most historic rivalry – Wilt vs. Russell, Bird vs. Dr. J, Johnny Most vs. the city of Brotherly Love, Cedric Maxwell vs. the Sixers’ taunters – looks to be doomed for the time being.

The Celtics appear to have a plan going forward, amassing draft picks (nine first-rounders in the next five years) as well as young talent and a bright, appealing new coach.

The Celtics can claim – without an accompanying laugh track – that they are not tanking this season with an eye on what GM Danny Ainge calls a “top-heavy but not that deep” 2014 NBA draft.

There are five playoff locks in the East for 2014 – Miami, Indiana, Chicago, New York and Brooklyn. Beyond that, who can say?

Well, you can eliminate Charlotte. And Philadelphia.

Right now, the once-proud 76ers look more like their D-League affiliate than an NBA playoff contender. Then again, maybe that’s the plan. Last summer, the team said goodbye to Andre Jrue HolidayIguodala, Lou Williams and Elton Brand. This summer it was Jrue Holiday. That leaves them with Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes, Thaddeus Young and Lavoy Allen from the team that took Boston to seven games in May 2012.

New GM Sam Hinkie is remaking the team from top to bottom. He still has yet to hire a coach. In the last few days, he has acquired four jettisoned Houston Rockets. Of those four, only one – James Anderson – has played in more than three NBA games. Two of the four, including Royce White, have yet to appear in an NBA regular-season game.

On draft night, Hinkie traded away his only All-Star in Holiday to the Pelicans for the rights to Nerlens Noel and a 2014 first-round pick. Philadelphia could thus possess two lottery picks in 2014 if New Orleans cooperates. It will most assuredly have one – its own.

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  1. steppx says

    allow me to add, the real problem in brooklyn is that Deron has had two bad years and JJ is coming off a miserable season. If they regain form, then sure, brooklyn is a four seed….but without that happening, its more like a 7 or 8 seed.

    • Jerry25 says

      You obviously don’t follow the details. JJ was playing on 1 leg during the Chicago series, due to Plantar Fasciitis – otherwise Nets would have lost to Heat. Deron was injured until rest and multiple treatments for his ankle injury, at the All Star break. He was maybe top PG in NBA after after that point.

      KG and Pierce still have plenty of Gas if they aren’t overused. Fortunately, Nets are loaded at PF with Blatche, Evans and Teletovic, and at SF with Kirilenko (and Shengelia) to give KG and PP plenty of rest.

      Nets clearly have the best starting 5 in the NBA, and if Terry proves that he was just injured last season, Nets reserves will be strong too.
      Terry, Blatche, AK, Evans and Livingston will be fine as the 2nd unit.

      Nets should best team in NBA on paper. If healthy they should win it all.

      • steppx says

        no deron was not, but ok, thats subjective. JJ was hurt, well so was half the league. The popular take is that the nets are contenders. But i disagree. KG has no gas left. And honestly pierce cant defend. He literally cannot move laterally. I think Im not the one missing details here. And why cant people disagree without constant snark. Jesus Im tired of how rude people on threads are. KG was terrible last post season. Pierce was up and down, but defensively almost a dead loss. Deron has not performed up to the player he was in utah. Only time will tell who is right about the coach killer. The best thing this team did was dump Humphries ….but Im not sure why people have such faith in a back court that was simply bad, a center with limited defense (though effective offensive game) and what else? I mean loaded you say? Evans? Livingston and Terry???? Seriously my friend……thats my point in a nutshell. Most overrated team right now and exactly like the lakers last off season.

  2. steppx says

    not sure the point of this article. But….i will say boston is being underrated by a lot of people right now. Who is the power in the east? Miami, Indiana and Chicago. Period. Anyone who believes the Nets are magically a contender doesnt grasp reality. KG is out of gas….and pierce close to it. PP cant play any defense anymore, and is only effective on offense in limited doses. Knicks are toast. Potentially new york isnt even a playoff team, except the east is so weak. Boston has rondo, bass, sullinger, bradley AND olynyk, who i think is very promising and jeff green….I mean its a five or six seed. Who else is there? Toronto is better….Big Val should have a break out year. Atlanta is toast, detroit has the josh smith problem…might be better….bucks? no, sixers no, and so who is left?

    • Gregory says

      Woahh you are deffinitely crazy if you think New York is “toast”. New York is underrated every year. Last year we were ranked as 4th in our division and 7th or 8th seed in the East and we came out on top thru every injury in the book. If were healthy this year we are a Top 3 team in the east, division champs and a 55+ win team

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