Saturday night will be the sixth time the Philadelphia and Boston have met in a Game 7.
These are two of the NBA’s legendary franchises and located less than a six-hour train ride apart. They are natural rivals and this Game 7 Saturday in the Eastern Conference semifinals is just the next chapter in that history.
Let’s take a look back at the first five (the Celtics lead 3-2):
1965 division finals: Celtics 110, Sixers 109: Everyone thought this would Philadelphia’s year — ending the Celtics six-year title streak — because they had just acquired this little guy named Wilt Chamberlain. Wasn’t to be the case. This was a one-point game at the end and Philly was going to have the last shot but John Havlicek stole the inbound pass. Boston made it seven titles in a row knocking off the Lakers.
1968 Division finals: Celtics 100, Sixers 96: Philly was the defending NBA champion and had a 3-1 series lead on the Celtics, but it wasn’t enough. Boston had Sam Jones dropping 22 in the final game and Philly had no answer.
1977 conference semifinals: Sixers 83, Celtics 77: This was a low-scoring game just like Game 7 this year will be. You’d like to think the newly acquired Dr. J was the answer for the Sixers (and he wasn’t bad) but it was World B. Free dropping 27 off the bench that was the difference. You hear that Lou Williams?
1981 conference finals: Celtics 91, Sixers 90: This was as close an NBA playoff series as there has ever been — five games were decided by 2 points or less. Including Game 7, where Larry Bird drained the game-winning jumper. Bird did those sorts of things, he was cold blooded.
1982 conference finals: 76ers 120, Celtics 106: This is the 7th game current Sixers coach Doug Collins pulled out to show his team before Game 6, to say it could be done. This is the game where Andrew Toney earned the nickname “The Boston Stranger” as he had 34 points and hit all the big shots it seemed. But that Dr. J guy added 29, he was impressive as always.
This not only changes the Kings dreams of making the playoffs in the West, it also alters the trade deadline and free agency.
Rudy Gay, the Kings wing and second-leading scorer, has been diagnosed with a torn left Achilles tendon, according to the team. During the third quarter of Wednesday night’s game against the Pacers, Gay drove out of the right corner and, untouched, fell to the floor hard. He had to be helped off the court by teammates.
Team doctors made the initial torn Achilles diagnosis, which will need to be confirmed by an MRI scheduled for Thursday. He would be out not only for this season but likely the start of the next one as well.
Without Gay, a lot more will fall on Matt Barnes and, once he returns from his calf injury in a couple of weeks, Omri Casspi. Those two are a drop off from what Gay brought to the Kings — this season the team gets outscored by 10 points per 100 possessions when he is off the court — and with that team’s playoff chances have taken a hit (they are 1.5 games out of the eight seed after Wednesday’s loss to the Pacers). Don’t be surprised if the Kings look to add a scorer at the trade deadline.
Gay was not happy in Sacramento and said he planned to opt out of the $14.3 million final year of his contract to be a free agent next summer, which made him someone potentially traded before the deadline (although the Kings being in the playoff hunt impacted that). Gay averaged 18.7 points and 6.4 rebounds a game for the Kings, and while his game was a little old school — more isolation and midrange shots than teams prefer — he put up points. Enough that he was drawing trade interest heading toward the deadline from Oklahoma City and other squads.
That is all off the table now. At age 30, if Gay does still opt out of his contract for next season this will impact what he would make on the free market.
Kevin Durant playing the Thunder invites extra emotions.
Russell Westbrook felt them – in the form of a flagrant foul by Warriors center Zaza Pachulia, who stood over Westbrook for emphasis.
Pachulia is really embracing his role doing the dirty work for star-studded Golden State.
That rumor No. 1 pick Ben Simmons won’t play this season?
It just won’t die.
Even after Simmons tried to quash it, even after the 76ers’ CEO outright denied it, even after Simmons returned to practice, even in an otherwise optimistic report.
Chris Haynes of ESPN:
76ers rookie forward Ben Simmons could make his much-anticipated NBA debut shortly after the All-Star break, league sources told ESPN.
Barring a setback in his recovery, sources say the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft has a chance to take the hardwood near March. There still remains the possibility Simmons sits the entire season, sources said, but his situation will continue to be thoroughly evaluated throughout his comeback quest.
76ers coach Brett Brown said there’s “no chance” Simmons plays in Philadelphia’s nationally televised game against the Rockets next week. Other than that, there isn’t much clarity.
It mostly sounds as if Simmons is still too far from returning to say something definitive.
The Hornets did so much right in their 107-85 win over the Trail Blazers, even a bad pass went through the hoop.
Roy Hibbert reacted fantastically to blunder/basket (blasket?).