There’s been a lot of hype in the City of Brotherly Love since Andrew Bynum was acquired at the slight loss of Andre Iguodala and Nikola Vucevic (and a first round pick). Analysts’ chic picks have included the Sixers, a team that they feel has the hopes of being a Cinderella of sorts, of the NBA Playoffs.
With a young and talented core, and a possible pick and roll tandem of Jrue Holiday and Andrew Bynum, the Sixers have a lot of the major pieces in place, and a host of talented role players, that includes their other heist of the Dwight Howard-deal, Jason Richardson. Richardson and shooter Nick Young will provide some lift from behind the arc for a team that is in need of more three point shooting.
Evan Turner must continue to develop and become the player that many thought he would be coming out of Ohio State. The early comparisons to Brandon Roy might have been a bit much, but Turner must become consistent and be the kind of player the Sixers can go to when the offense gets stagnant. He needs to create when they ask him to and realize his ball handling skills can result in easier looks for himself and his teammates. If Turner becomes a fringe All-Star type or better, the other players around him will also raise their games. Thaddeus Young will benefit; Lavoy Allen will; and so on runs the gambit of players the Sixers can utilize off their bench.
Losing leading scorer Lou Williams would seem like a blow, and it is, but it’s lessened by the fact they now have Bynum.
As good as that sounds, do the Celtics have a chance?
Rajon Rondo / Keyon Dooling vs. Jrue Holiday / Royal Ivey / Maalik Wayns
Rondo is a top-five NBA point guard and while Holiday is a top 20 point guard, he just can’t matchup with Rondo. Holiday has the speed, but Rondo is even more blindingly fast and he’s only getting better with his impressive array of ball fakes.
Dooling is a better backup than either Ivey or Wayns, and that’s not even to mention the fact that Avery Bradley and Dionte Christmas could be in the mix at the point, as well. The Celtics just have too much talent in the back court for the 76ers, and it shows up at the point guard position first.
Avery Bradley / Courtney Lee / Jason Terry vs. Jason Richardson / Nick Young
Again, the C’s just have one of the best backcourt rotations in the entire league. With all due respect to an aged Richardson and jack-happy Nick Young, Bradley and either of Lee or Terry would be better than the 76ers duo. With all three aboard, it’s not even close. Lee is going to be a defensive demon in Doc Rivers’ system, and he hits a lot of threes at a high percentage.
Terry will do his usual thing; and Bradley is being touted as one of the best young shooting guards in the league.
Paul Pierce / Jeff Green / Kris Joseph vs. Evan Turner / Thaddeus Young / Dorell Wright
At first glance, one sees Pierce and concludes that he is better than Turner, and accordingly the C’s have an advantage at SF. But it’s not that easy.
Thaddeus Young has sixth man of the year potential and Dorell Wright is a deadly three point shooter coming off a monster year two seasons ago in Golden State (he disappointed last year). Turner in his own right is a developing stud in the making and is now aggressive enough to truly advance at a more rapid pace.
Of course, that is not to negate how truly good Pierce can be, nor the impact Jeff Green will make now that he is fully healthy and focused on returning to form. Even Kris Joseph will contribute some bench scoring.
All things considered though, the youth and talent exhibited by a three forward combo in Philly may be a little too much.
Brandon Bass / Jared Sullinger / Chris Wilcox vs. Spencer Hawes / Lavoy Allen / Arnett Moultrie
Bass is coming off one of the best stretches of games in his life in the NBA Playoffs. He D-ed up LeBron James, and though he struggled with the task (who wouldn’t?), he showed a fearless demeanor towards attempting it, and Rivers had immense confidence in Bass to entrust him with those duties to begin with. He’s been worth every bit of Glen Davis, and has to be a featured piece in what the Celtics do post-Garnett era.
Sullinger is going to have a lot of guile and moves that will frustrate Lavoy Allen in the second unit, and Wilcox’s experience will pose problems for the rookie Moultrie.
All in all, Boston gives the Sixers some real problems here.
Kevin Garnett / Fab Melo / Jason Collins vs. Andrew Bynum / Kwame Brown
There was a point in Garnett’s career that I would say he has a definitive advantage over every guy in the league at his position. Those days, however, are now long passed.
Brown is a joke, but Bynum is legitimately and easily the second best center in the NBA. Garnett is an All-First Team NBA defender, but ultimately, Bynum should give KG some real problems. First off, he’s a little taller, and much bigger. He’s accustomed to getting the ball on the block and being able to make aggressive spin moves. It could mean foul trouble for Garnett.
There is no one to counter Bynum with on the bench, and the C’s really can’t afford to let KG get in foul trouble. The Sixers are going to go to Bynum early and often, and wear away at the Celtics interior, as Bynum will cause Bass and Sully to pick up more fouls as well.
Doc Rivers vs. Doug Collins
Ultimately, here you are talking about two very elite coaches. Collins, however, has one thing Doc doesn’t have: mass experience. Collins has had the pleasure of coaching Michael Jordan, and been an analyst who delivered top tier analysis. His knowledge is indisputable.
Rivers is no slouch, though. He took a Magic team that was lottery fodder and had them finish .500, almost reaching the playoffs in an especially top heavy year in the Eastern Conference. He received no credit for molding Ben Wallace, before leaving for much more emerald green pastures in Boston. Since that time, he has won a championship (2008) and established himself as one of the best defensive coaches and most relatable coach for players in the league.
I’m not sure that either trumps the other here, and I think Collins gets a slight edge only because of experience.
Advantage: Sixers, by a fraction of a hair
This series all really comes down to how much of an advantage one thinks the Sixers have at center. Can Garnett keep Bynum in check?
In the backcourt, the C’s have the Sixers checkmated, and the Sixers only have a small advantage at small forward, with a huge disadvantage at power forward.
Ultimately, the Sixers have two advantages over the Celtics, but the backcourt issue is huge. Can the Sixers find any way to neutralize Rondo when he is now surrounded by shooters like Bradley, Terry, and Lee? All three players shoot well above average from three point range, and Rondo’s penetration is going to result in a lot of those looks.
Overall, I think the C’s win this series…But…
It goes 7 games. Celtics 4 games to 3 over Phily.