Paul Reed suggests his team wanted to avoid facing Boston Celtics in playoffs

It seems like active NBA players are even dismissive of the notion that the Boston Celtics are "playoff chokers." 
Philadelphia 76ers v Boston Celtics
Philadelphia 76ers v Boston Celtics / Adam Glanzman/GettyImages

ESPN's barrage of three-minute sound bites intended to go viral might need more context, but past narratives only matter once the present erases them. Last May, Boston crumpled in Game 7 at home against the Miami Heat after being the perennial favorite to win the title.

Does it matter that Joe Mazzulla was thrust into the head coaching position only weeks before the season started? Perhaps it is irrelevant that Jayson Tatum severely sprained his ankle just seconds after the tip in the crucial win-or-go-home contest. Calling the team frauds is just easier than going through all that explanation—I get it.

Even the most talentless pundits and keyboard warriors must admit this unit is far different. Kristaps Porzingis is the best center the franchise has had since Kevin Garnett. Jrue Holiday has all the best qualities of Marcus Smart, with better defensive prowess and less head-scratching shot selection. 64 wins is remarkable, especially during one of the best talent pools in NBA history.

Opponents justifiably want to avoid this buzzsaw—ask Philadelphia 76ers reserve Paul Reed. The fourth-year big recently appeared on FanDuel's show "Run It Back" to discuss his squad's mentality during their play-in matchup against the Miami Heat.

"I feel like we ain't ducking no smoke," Reed said. "But yeah, we wanted the New York Knicks matchup, of course. That's the easier team. It's going to be fun—we match up pretty well with them."

The Boston Celtics are clearly a feared franchise

Boston has eliminated Philadelphia from the postseason three times since 2018 and has won their last six playoff series against the club dating back to 1985. Joel Embiid once said calling it a rivalry is unfair since the Celtics always win—an honorable take from the reigning MVP.

The Knicks are in the midst of their most electrifying run since they became the first eight seed to make the Finals in the shortened 1999 lockout season. Jalen Brunson has been a revelation, catapulting his way to superstardom and having a legitimate case to make the All-NBA first team. Surrounding him is pure toughness, taken on by coach Tom Thibodeau's personality. OG Anunoby, Donte DiVincenzo, and Josh Heart make up the rest of the core's nucleus, and their post-All-Star game surge landed them the second seed in the Eastern Conference.

Thibodeau teams are so reliant on their starters that injuries are frequent. Julius Randle will miss the entire playoffs with a shoulder injury, and Mitchell Robinson and Anunoby are finally healthy after their stints on the IR. Small guards, who are their team's primary offensive engine, have historically struggled in the playoffs, and the group feels like a better story than a basketball team. It's not surprising the 76ers would rather roll the dice with this inexperienced bunch than square off against the championship favorites.

Reed heavily implied his team was trying to avoid the Celtics at all costs, even if he said otherwise. I don't blame him. This has been one of the most promising campaigns in recent memory, and few teams with a similar statistical makeup have failed to hoist a banner.

Boston is coming, and everyone knows it.