(4) BOSTON CELTICS vs. (8) PHILADELPHIA 76ERS
One thing is for sure in this conference semifinal: both teams are extremely happy the first round is over. The Celtics get in physical battles with the Hawks every year it seems, and a mini-rivalry has started to brew. The 76ers made it past the Bulls – a #1 seed without their #1 star. Both were over in six games and now they’ll be tussling for a shot at the conference final.
Led by the “Big Three” once again, Boston is a veteran team with experience and a championship under its belt. Garnett turned it on after being goaded by the Hawks front office and is playing as well as he has in years. Rajon Rondo has proven to be the most instrumental part of the Boston five, playing key roles in scoring, defense, rebounding and of course assists. The former Kentucky point guard can do it all, and it will be interesting to see how Philadelphia head coach Doug Collins tries to subdue him.
The 76ers are led by Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand , while Jrue Holiday has proven to be the team’s x-factor. Holiday is averaging 16.9 points per game, but from the 13.5 average in the regular season. The Sixers have won every post-season game in which he has scored over 16 points in 2012.
The Philadelphia 76ers have been a consistent force in the playoffs since their debut in the City of Brotherly Love in 1963 with 32 playoff appearances, eight division championships and 12 appearances in the conference finals under their belt. The 76ers also brought home the NBA Title twice in 1967 and 1983.
The squad enjoyed their first championship in 1967 behind the MVP performance of Wilt Chamberlain. Before they got there, however, the 76ers had to knock off the Boston Celtics - who were on a nine-year winning streak in the playoffs - in the conference finals. The team made quick work of the Celtics and the San Francisco Warriors in the NBA Finals to win their first title.
The 1983 championship team was made up of a number of exciting players who captured the hearts of Philly fans. The strong presence of Moses Malone under the basket and Julius Erving's jaw-dropping athletic ability allowed the 76ers to cruise past the New York Knicks and Milwaukee Bucks in the first two rounds. The NBA Finals would prove to be even sweeter, as the team would sweep the Los Angeles Lakers in four games to reach the top of the basketball world.
The 76ers have sent a bevy of sensational players to the Hall of Fame, including Wilt Chamberlain, Billy Cunningham and Hal Greer, who were instrumental in the 76ers first title run. Fellow Hall of Famers "Dr. J" Julius Erving and Moses Malone were two of the most electrifying men on an NBA court, and it paid off with a championship in 1983.
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