Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
And they enter this series as the favorite because all of their talent and potential has come to fruition at playoff time. They disposed of the Miami Heat in five games, a series many prognosticators picked Miami to win because of its experience. Experience doesn’t appear to be an issue for the 76ers, and the Celtics will have to devise ways to defend the biggest point guard in the NBA (Simmons) and the most gifted center (Embiid).
The Celtics’ best chance to limit Embiid is forcing him to score from the perimeter. He made 72.8 percent of his shots inside 3 feet this season. That number dropped to 38.7 percent from 3-to-10 feet. Like many current big men, Embiid has a fascination with the 3-pointer, and while he’s capable of nailing a three, he was 30.8 percent from long distance this season.
Stevens may go to burly Aron Baynes to make postups more difficult for Embiid and also keep Horford from picking up fouls. The Celtics have had success defensively against Embiid in the past. In four career games against Boston, Embiid is shooting 40.6 percent from the field and has missed 13 of 15 3-point attempts.
But the Celtics are going to have to prevent Simmons from starting and completing fast breaks. He simply uses his size and athletic ability to gallop down the floor and either attack the rim or find Redick, Covington, Ilyasova, Belinelli or Saric for 3-point attempts. Those five players shot at least 36.9 percent from the 3-point line this season.
The 76ers have two incredibly talented young studs and have won 20 of their last 21 games. They’re heavily favored (-400, 71% probability) to win this series.
But anyone expecting me or the Celtics to cower at their existence can *insert famous Kyrie Irving vulgar directive here*.
The Celtics may be young (and severely hampered by injuries) but this sh*t is about to get real. The 2nd round vs Boston is a slightly different experience than a 1st round series vs Miami (more on that below).
Before you scoff about Boston’s meager playoff experience, just know it’s exponentially better than Philly’s. Simmons, Embiid, Saric and Covington busted their playoff cherries in Miami. And I can assure you that Marcus Smart, Semi Ojeleye and Al Horford will offer much more defensive resistance.
I’m no fool. I don’t have any grand illusions of the Celtics dominating this series, especially with Jaylen Brown on a weak hamstring.
But if Brown comes back healthy for Game 2 and the guys execute Brad Stevens’ genius defensive scheme, I’m not counting them out.
On Page 2, Ersan Ilyasova dumps on Heat fans.
“When we were in Miami … the gym was half-empty,” Sixers reserve Ersan Ilyasova said after the team’s practice. “But when you go to Boston, you will feel it. Even in the regular season, you know when you play that team, the arena is full, and they’re really committed fans.”
“It’s always tough to play at their place,” Ilyasova said. “It’s always crowded, and we have to come up with a lot of energy and edge to win the game.”
In addition to the raucous crowd in Boston, the young Sixers will be facing one of the NBA’s top defenses in their series against the Celtics. Sixers coach Brett Brown said that one of the keys to his team’s series against Boston is “just how are you going to score?”
I knew there was a reason I always like Ilyasova.
I saw one Heat reporter touting Miami’s sell-out streak on Twitter. Um, it’s more about showing up than selling out.
And in Miami’s case, leaving early is also a problem.
The rest of the links