Philadelphia 76ers learn firsthand Celtics rivalry alive and well

(Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images) /
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Philadelphia 76ers
PHILADELPHIA, PA – MARCH 26: Markelle Fultz #20 of the Philadelphia 76ers dribbles the ball up the court with Joel Embiid #21 trailing him in the first quarter against the Denver Nuggets at the Wells Fargo Center on March 26, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Prestidigitation time

The fact is that the setting screams for innovation, talent and basketball acumen. That’s why this series needs the magic of Markelle Fultz. The Celtics have been working with less all season. While they do indeed have injuries, their team is quite comfortable now with the current lineup. In short, this is not a sudden development. As such, they have plenty of room to go off-script, like a great jazz session where each musician scats off the basic melody.

Boston’s motor is purring like a kitten because they were pushed to seven games. That game seven win at home simply carried over to a game one win at home. It’s purely that simple.  No familiarity exists for Philadelphia in game one. New city, new basketball court, new team. And just like that, their hesitation and unfamilarity resulted in a loss. Boston arrived all tuned up and capable of adjusting in-game to exploit the 76ers.

Markelle magic?

To counter that, these 76ers need to be able to do the same. That means the team must work with Joel Embiid, and find a way to get Markelle Fultz onto the floor. Fultz adds that Markelle magic of unpredictability which confounds the daylights out of a regimented team like the Celtics. If they cannot anticipate the play, they cannot defend it. And right now, the only other player with that type of unpredictability is Fultz and Embiid.

But there are other strategies too. Push Robert Covington to the perimeter to shoot and pray he finds a hot hand. Or do the same with Dario Saric. While this game is as much strategy as physicality, the team needs to find some element of the Celtics game to exploit.  Even pushing Aron Baynes to foul out early opens the basket to a wide assortment of driving cut backs and layups. It simply needs to be a concerted effort.