76ers – Celtics: A Rivalry Reborn?




The 76ers and Celtics are meeting in the playoffs for a record 19th time, and their storied rivalry has included many notable regular season and postseason games.

This year’s matchup is only the second in the last 17 years; from 1980 to 1985, they met four times in the Eastern Conference Finals. Historically, only Lakers-Celtics is on the same level as a rivalry.

This series is shaping up to be a tight, grind-it-out affair. Could this renew what was once one of the fiercest rivalries in sports? Before we look forward, lets look back.

Here are my five most memorable games:   

The Boston Strangler – March 21, 1982 – The Spectrum 

Andrew Toney averaged about five points above his career average against the Celtics, and this game was one of his best. It was Toney’s second season in Philly, and he spotted current Grizz coach Lionel Hollins off the bench. In only 26 minutes, Toney torched Boston for 38, including 25 in the 4th (still a Sixers record for points in a quarter). However, it wasn’t enough as the Celtics still won the game.

Beat L.A. – May 23, 1982 – Boston Garden

Late in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Sixers were pulling away. Led by Toney, who had games of 30, 39, and 34 in the decider, Philly were about to meet the Lakers in the Finals. In a remarkable show of solidarity,  Boston fans began chanting “Beat L.A.!!!”. It was a surreal moment in what was an incredibly intense and heated rivalry.

The Brawl – sometime in October during the 1983 preseason – Boston Garden

The Sixers were coming off an impressive title run, and didn’t mind sticking out their chests at their rivals before any real games began. Three separate fights broke out: Larry Bird/Marc Iavaroni, Cornbread Maxwell/Moses Malone, and Gerald Henderson/Sedale Threatt. Celts GM Red Auerbach was so pissed that Philly was pushing Boston around, he came out of the stands and went after Sixers head coach Billy Cunningham…and then Malone. Red was 66 at the time.

The Fight – November 9, 1984 – Boston Garden

Bird and Dr. J would soon develop a groundbreaking video game together, but on this day they knuckled up. Bird was killin Doc (42 pts v 6 pts), when they squared up. Malone played the part of villain when he grabbed Bird around the neck as Doc teed off on him.

The Blowout – May 3, 2002 – Fleet Center

The Sixers had been to the Finals the previous year; this was Boston’s first trip in seven years. Heading into the deciding game 5 of the first round series, each team had won a pair on their home floor. In a long distance shooting display that may never be duplicated, the Celtics hit a mind-boggling 19 threes on 29 attempts. Paul Pierce went nuts, going for 46, and combined with Eric Williams and Antoine Walker to shoot an absurd 15 for 22 from beyond the arc.


Stats courtesy of basketball-reference.com


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4 Responses to “76ers – Celtics: A Rivalry Reborn?”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Go 76ers!!! Beat those old farts and force them into a retirement center.

  2. d cro Says:

    How many hours were spent playing that game? A lot.

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