With both the Celtics and 76ers closing out their opponents last night, we can now look ahead to the 2nd round.
During the season the 76ers took the series 2-1 and twice beating the Celtics by double-didgets, but this is the playoffs. Everything that happened during the season between these two teams can be thrown out the window. Now it all comes down to experience vs youth.
The 76ers haven’t been in the 2nd round since 2003 and most of their roster is relatively inexperienced when it comes to playing in the playoffs.
Throughout this series, experience alone could determine who moves on to the Eastern Conference Finals.
While injuries have taken a toll on the Celtics, the bench has stepped up just enough to help carry the team past the Hawks. For this series, the Celtics will need the same type of production from the bench, especially from the guards.
Unlike most people, I think this series may be more of a challenge for the Celtics. If the 76ers aren’t phased by being in the 2nd round, their young legs and confidence could easily make this a 6 or 7 game series, but I don’t think they have enough to get by the Celtics.
My prediction for this series is the Celtics will take it in 5 or 6 games barring any lack luster efforts by the Celtics in a game or two. During the playoffs, any team is dangerous. The Celtics need to come out strong for games 1 and 2 and maybe put doubts into the 76ers minds. With that said, here are the keys to winning the series for the Celtics
Celtics Need to Control the Tempo of the Game
After watching a few Game 1 previews for the Celtics, 76ers series, it seems like the Celtics will need to control the tempo of the game. They can’t allow the 76ers to run on the fast break and if they do the Celtics will have to play exceptional transition defense.
I do disagree with some of the analysts who say the Celtics will have to slow the game down to win the series. I think they can play an up tempo game as long as they slow the 76ers game on offense.
Last series versus the Hawks, the Celtics ran the fast break on multiple occasions and were successful in getting easy baskets and then getting back on defense to slow the Hawks on the offense. But with “old” legs playing against young legs, the Celtics will definitely need to set the tempo of the series early.
Celtics Should Focus On Stopping Andre Iguodala
My X-factor for this series is Andre Iguodala. If the Celtics can play the same type of defense they played on Joe Johnson it will force the 76ers to go to other players. While Iguodala didn’t really have a good series against the Bulls, I expect him to play a bit more aggressively this series, especially with Pierce having a sprained knee. If the Celtics can shut down Iguodala and keep Lou Williams and Jrue Holiday in check, they should have an easier time in getting by the 76ers.
Rondo and Bradley Have to be Aggressive Offensively and Defensively
Just like in the Hawks series, Rondo and Bradley will have to set the tone early. Rondo should have a fairly easy time getting by Lou Williams on the offensive end, and on defense he should be able to keep Williams in front of him. But just like in the last series, Bradley and Rondo will have to play good perimeter defense. Both of the 76ers guards can hit 3’s and the Celtics can’t afford giving up as many outside shots like they did against the Hawks.
I think this is the series that Rondo could break out and have a few great games. I just don’t see the 76ers defense stopping him, especially since they lack height just like the Celtics.
Series Starts Tomorrow
Tomorrow the Celtics, 76ers series begins at 8pm. So far the schedule for the first 2 games is Saturday night at 8pm and Monday night at 7pm. Once the full schedule is released I’ll post it.
It should be a great series. These 2 teams have a history of playing each other in the playoffs, from Larry Bird vs Dr. J to Bill Russell vs Wilt Chamberlain. Let’s hope this is another memorable series that we can look back on.
Let’s go Celtics and lets get by the 76ers to get into the Eastern Conference Finals!