The second round series between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers is tied up at two games apiece. At times the Celtics have looked like the best team in the East. At other times they’ve looked like the Wicked Witch of the East (crushed under a house). It kind of feels like this one could go either way.
At their best, the Celtics present Joel Embiid with his biggest challenge. They are able to throw multiple looks at him, wearing him down over the course of a game, all without leaving his teammates for open shots. They frustrate James Harden and upset any game plan Doc Rivers has. On offense they spread the ball around, drive into the paint, and rain three pointers down on the Sixers heads.
At their worst, the Celtics play 3⁄4 speed on defense, miss assignments, make mind-numbing turnovers, suffer through ice cold shooting stretches, and make baffling decisions in the clutch. In game 1 they got up early and let the Sixers come back. In game 4 they got down early and had to play catch up all game long. Philly won both games and they deserve credit for those wins, but the Celtics helped a lot.
So now what?
This is one of those moments where the season legitimately hangs in the balance. It isn’t game 7 (yet) but game 5 is critical. We’ve seen this team make blunders time and time again, so it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see them stumble again. Then again, we’ve also seen them rise up in critical games and play some of their best basketball of the year.
I’ve gotta admit, I’m not exactly sure what to believe at this point. My heart wants to believe buy my head is warning me to get my guard up. If you forced me to make a prediction, I’d probably say Celtics in 7 where they win both remaining games in Boston but of course make life difficult by losing in Philly again.
How about you? How are you feeling about game 5 and the rest of the series?