The Philadelphia 76ers will take on the Boston Celtics at 8pm tonight at the Wells Fargo Center.
Boston has had their number with a 3-0 record in the regular-season series. However, John Kincade doesn’t feel the venom for the Celtics of the modern era.
“I have such a disdain for the Celtics, but honestly, it feels like that disdain was just from my childhood and from my young adulthood.” -John Kincade
The 76ers-Celtics rivalry has more than its fair share of history. They have met in the postseason more than any two NBA franchises, but the feud doesn’t rage as hot in 2023 as it did during the 1980s. (Don’t tell Anthony Gargano that though.)
Most Philadelphia fans would consider the Celtics their most hated NBA team, but are they really an arch-rival to Joel Embiid and the Sixers of the modern era?
Celtics Dominate Sixers
The Celtics unquestionably have the upper hand in recent history. Bob Cooney even ceded “majority ownership” of the Sixers to Boston.
“It doesn’t matter the level of sports you’re playing. Sometimes, teams just have something over another team. They might not be more talented. They might not be deeper. Whatever it is, but for some reason, they just have success against that other team.” -Bob Cooney
The two teams have met three times in the playoffs in 11 years and twice over the last five years. The Celtics have won all three series. They took down the Sixers in five games in 2018 and swept them in the Disney World bubble in 2020. They defeated Philadelphia in a tightly-fought Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2012.
Connor Thomas spoke as a member of the younger generation who didn’t experience the most heated rivalry years of the 1980s.
“I don’t like them. I don’t like Boston in general. I don’t like that team. I don’t like that fan base. For whatever reason, and maybe it’s just the older generation influencing me, but I can point to multiple series in the playoffs where I’ve been like ‘I hate this Boston Celtics organization and this core.’” -Connor Thomas
The rivalry should rage for younger generations who watched Rajon Rondo drill two impossible three balls in Game 7 in 2012 to put the dagger in the backs of the Sixers.
The memory of Ben Simmons finishing with 1 point in an NBA playoff game in 2018 should leave a scar.
It should get under the skin of fans when the Sixers get swept by their historical rival in a playoff series, even if it was in the most forgettable NBA playoff year in league history.
What Reignites the Rivalry?
Philadelphia fans watched Jayson Tatum hit a devastating game-winner against the Sixers on Feb. 25. They have a constant reminder that the Celtics won the 2017 trade that led the Sixers to pick Markelle Fultz while the Celtics ended up with the best player taken at the top of the draft.
What makes a rivalry though? Both sides have to exchange blows. The Sixers haven’t provided the best competition for the defending Eastern Conference champions.
If they finally decide to compete against the Celtics, the new generation of Sixers fans might be able to appreciate the stories their fathers and grandfathers told them about Julius Erving, Moses Malone, and Andrew “The Boston Strangler” Toney going up against Larry Bird and Kevin McHale.
Listen to 76ers-Celtics on 97.5 The Fanatic tonight at 8pm.