O.T.T.T: The Sixers Will Beat the Celtics in the Playoffs?
The general consensus around the NBA these days is that either the Boston Celtics or the Toronto Raptors will represent the East in the NBA Finals. But no so fast! Is it a foregone conclusion that the Celtics will even make it to the Conference Finals? What about the Philadelphia 76ers? Can the Sixers beat the Celtics in the playoffs?
As of right now, the Celtics are 5-2 and the Sixers are 4-4, which doesn’t make my argument sound very good. However, the Celtics have struggled far worse than their record indicates. They do have a win over the Sixers, but other than them and a game against the Detroit Pistons, the scores have been close and could’ve gone any other way. Sixers have had their share of issues, but the Celtics may suffer from a problem most teams would love to have and that’s having too much talent. Before you scoff, let me explain.
Kyrie Irving (arguably the team’s best player) has struggled so far this season. He is averaging 16.4 points per game on 42 percent shooting, numbers that were bolstered by his 31 point game in the Celtics second game against the Pistons. A reason for his struggle might be the fact that he is averaging four less shots per game than last year and the second lowest of his career. He is struggling to get going due to the conflict of either getting his own or getting the team involved. There’s only one basketball.
Aside from Kyrie, the Celtics as a whole have not been shooting the basketball well. They are 24th in the league in three point percentage at 32.8 percent. That’s very similar to the Sixers, but the Celtics are also 27th in the league at two pointers as they shoot 47.2 percent from two. The Sixers are 19th in that department.
The key to the Sixers beating the Celtics may very well be offensive execution. The Sixers are a team that can score in the paint, drive, post, and find other ways to score as they are not known as a shooting team. Whereas the Celtics are a shooting team and if they do not find ways to incorporate everyone into the offense they can become very vulnerable, as you can tell by the numbers.
It’s still early, the numbers can change (and probably will) and the Celtics are still the favorites, but Philly still has a shot, especially if Fultz can get going, and Wilson Chandler can provide some offense when he returns. There may be a different result than last year’s matchup this time.
*All stats are accurate as of October 31, 2018