Much of the coverage has focused on the historical rivalry, but that’s another matter. I see these squads as stylistic rivals, practitioners of a particularly boring, defensive-oriented brand of Eastern Conference basketball. And I love it.
It felt like a betrayal when these two teams each cracked 90 points in Game 1. I personally blame Spencer Hawes (for both augmented point totals), and hope that he doesn’t step out of line again. When two of the top three defensive squads face off, I need a hideous kind of game, something that harkens near a sick fantasy that would make Pat Riley cackle with glee.
The components are there. The Sixers won’t take any risks with the ball, averaging the fewest turnovers only because they settle for long twos. Andre Iguodala can’t shoot dependably. Jrue Holiday–another defensive ace–doesn’t create. Evan Turner makes Andre Iguodala look like Steve Kerr.
The Celtics can’t move, relying on Rajon Rondo to do the legwork for everyone else. They frequently turn the ball over (6th in the league), and possibly have even worse shot selection than Philadelphia. Paul Pierce has an ailing knee, Ray Allen is returning from injury. This is far from a humming point machine.
But man, both teams can lockdown. Philly’s strength is on the perimeter–Jrue and Iggy. Boston relies on Kevin Garnett to cover more ground than a buffalo herd. Both defenses are beautiful in their destructive, game-trolling nature. And I fully expect (and hope for) the ugly to return in Game 2.
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