Flipping the History Book: Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers Rivalry

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Apr 14, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers head coach

Doug Collins

points to the crowd after game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Wells Fargo Center. The 76ers defeated the Cavaliers, 91-77. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The 21st Century Meeting

The 76ers got a lucky break when the Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose went down with an injury in the first-round of the 2012 playoffs. Without Rose, the 76ers took down the top-seeded Bulls, setting up a date with the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. It was only the second time these two teams met in the playoffs since 1985 (2002 first-round was the other).

They split the first two games in Boston, with each team winning a game by one point. The Celtics led most of the way in Game 3, beating the 76ers handily, 107-91.

In Game 4, the 76ers fought back from an 18-point third quarter deficit to even the series. They went back and forth again, with the Celtics taking Game 5 and Philly taking Game 6, setting up a winner-take-all Game 7.

The Celtics ultimately took Game 7, 85-75. The game was tight most of the way, but Boston’s veterans pulled away at the end. Rajon Rondo had two triple-doubles in the series.

It was an exciting break from the mediocrity the 76ers were for the previous 10 years. Not since 2001 had the team treated the city of Philadelphia to a playoff run of any kind. They weren’t supposed to even be there, but they fought the heavily-favored Celtics down to the bitter end of Game 7. That playoff series marked the signature moment in the Doug Collins coaching era.

It was a pleasant reminder that this rivalry, even if they aren’t competing for championships anymore, is still alive and well.