Published: Wed, May 02, 2018
Sci-tech | By Jackie Newman

Simmons enters great NBA playoff rivalry

Simmons enters great NBA playoff rivalry

CAMDEN, N.J. As they waited to learn their second-round playoff opponent, most of the 76ers did the usual and tried to camouflage their feelings.

Coming off a gentleman's sweep of the Miami Heat in the first round, the Philadelphia 76ers were arguably the hottest team in the National Basketball Association.

Brown's potential absence would sap the Celtics in their attempt to carry out one assignment in particular - putting as much size as possible on Ben Simmons, the big 76ers playmaker and frontrunner for this year's Rookie of the Year award.

The Bucks threatened to upset the second-seeded Boston Celtics in their opening-round series, but were ultimately eliminated with a 112-96 loss in game seven.

Stevens said guard Jaylen Brown still had some soreness from a hamstring injury he sustained in Game 7 and is doubtful for Game 1 against the Sixers.

"With Wilt and Bill and all the guys that have laid the foundation for us to play now, obviously it was before we were born but you appreciate the talent that they had and the rivalry that was put in place", guard T.J. McConnell said. Markelle Fultz, who was "traded" from the Celtics to the Sixers, who accepted Boston's first pick in the draft, did not play against the Celtics in the four games but has since returned.

By the time Dario Saric clicked his TV off after that Game 7 Saturday, it had become the Sixers' only option.

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Boston shot 47 percent from three-point territory and the 76ers shot 19 percent.

The 76ers are rightfully favorited against the Celtics.

Sixers coach Brett Brown is familiar with the Philadelphia and Boston matchups of the 1980s, having grown up in South Portland, Maine. In the regular season meetings, they also had the benefit of using Daniel Theis. The 76ers dominated from opening tip and led by 18 going into the fourth. Brown is one of the most reliable scorers in what is an already limited Celtics offense without Kyrie Irving.

Point guard Simmons' length (6-foot-10) typically results in opponents putting a bigger defender on him.

That being said, the Celtics can still get some confidence from knowing they won the season series 3-1, and there was a pretty solid indication of what needs to be done to win. The matchup is in Horford's favor. Given Simmons ability to get in the paint and Embiid's prowess on the boards, Aron Baynes and Greg Monroe ability to challenge at the rim and contain Embiid are critical.

But Boston is not the same team it was then. "The thing with him is he can play inside, outside, he can handle the ball, he's a screen-setter, he's a guy in transition that can bring it up, he can run the floor, he can do - you name it, he can do those things". In the only matchup this season that didn't feature Irving, Brown went 2-7 for 6 points while be guarded by Simmons. Watch Celtics vs Sixers live online free streaming with or without cable, or catch Game 1 on TNT cable TV tonight. Brown said Saturday he is scheduled to have an MRI Sunday and, in the meantime, will be massaging, resting, and icing his injury. Marco Belinelli in particular looked borderline unplayable as Tatum, Rozier and Horford beat him one-on-one in half-court sets.

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