PHILADELPHIA – Can we talk about the talent? In the semifinal series of the Eastern Conference, the Sixers were given the clear edge over the Celtics – after all, they have one of the best young big men in the game with Joel Embiid and the alleged rookie of the year in Ben Simmons.
It is reasonable to argue that Embiid and Simmons were among the top 20 players in the league this season, regardless of their youth and inexperience. In addition, Philly's decisive first-round victory came against the Heat, with Simmons and Embiid the two best players on the field and expectations rising into the stratosphere.
"We got into the race faster than any of us thought at the beginning of the year," said Sixers coach Brett Brown after Sunday's practice session. "We all hoped for the playoffs, then we got really greedy and wanted to win 50 games, then we wanted Homecourt, then we wanted to beat Milwaukee and finish third, then we have a great series against Miami and we win 4-1
No, that will not work. Brown can not control expectations, and he has made no effort to downplay them. His ruthless temperament is as much part of Philly's dynamic as his two young stars. He did not try to put any limits on them, and it would not matter if he did, so why?
However, the discussion about the show seems to be short-lived for the Celtics players. Some of these are obviously due to the absence of Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving. Their injuries reflect the Celtics' season of one of the competition to one of growth and opportunity.
Part of the apparent talent disparity is also due to the fight they had in the first round with Milwaukee. As the Sixers rolled, the C & # 39; s were stretched to seven games and the limits of their roster became apparent by the inclusion of the unannounced Semi Ojeleye on the grid.
Now that the Celtics are holding a 3-0 lead, it's clear that it's not just about giving Brad Steven's magical coaching dust over his ragged gang of brave high-flyers. This is a team with two top 3 tips from successive designs, a fearless young point guard developing into a starring role, and an adult all-star in Al Horford.
The difference is that unlike the Sixers, the Celtics did not come into this season with designs to build their young core. While Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown started the season as starters, Hayward and Irving should complete their roles.
Therefore, it is easy to forget that Tatum and Brown were both top 3 picks with future all-star ambitions. In particular, Tatum has performed well in this postseason far beyond his years. His score was sublime, and his ability to attack adds a dimension that the Celtics lacked in previous seasons.
Jaylen Brown's blanket is impossible to know. He has come so far, so fast, that no one really knows exactly what type of player he will eventually become. What we can say with certainty is that he plays basketball and fully relies on his abilities.
The unveiling was Terry Rozier, a third grader who emerged as a legitimate start-point guard. Considering that he spent much of his rookie season with the Maine Red Claws and spent most of his second season as a back-of-the-rotation player, his post-season appearance was a godsend for the Celtics.
It is true that Rozier performed well during the regular season when he appeared for Irving, both in January and on the other side. But nobody – with the exception of the very confident Rozier – saw this coming.
Rozier's star point comes with all sorts of consequences for the future of this Celtics team. He will be eligible for renewal this summer, and the Celtics will also have to make a decision on Marcus Smart, who will meet the restricted free agency.
(While we're here: Marcus Smart or Robert Covington? Aron Baynes or Amir Johnson? Marcus Morris or Ersan Ilyasova? Shane Larkin or TJ McConnell? It's hard to overturn one way or another – these clashes were already relative evenly.)
Irving meanwhile has another year on his business before he can break his contract. That's a lot of guards who are out to get paid, but it's a problem that every team in the league would like to accept.
What the Celtics have that the Sixers are not Horford at the moment. Throughout his career, Horford was a bit dismissive as a second star. He was the best player on the pitch in games 5 and 7 of the first round, in which Giannis Antetokounmpo also played. He was also the best player in this round.
Horford is the Celtics' security blanket. Stevens can give him any job – offensive or defensive – and he knows he can trust Horford to deliver whatever is asked. Even with Irving and Hayward with the team, Horfords Gravitas extended in the dressing room and on the court.
Philly's dynamics are different. Your veteran is J.J. Redick, who is a wonderful player and a leader by example. But the team's lead bow points to Embiid and Simmons learning how to grow.
"As far as an individual, no, they look at each other," said Brown. "That does not mean refusing emptiness of leadership, it's just nobody as clearly anointed as Al [Horford]." For JJ to pitch in and have this stage, it's a wrong environment for someone coming in and doing that.
"My goal is to continue developing Ben and Joel and eventually Markelle (Fultz). That will be her team. Try to cultivate this leadership and this recognition that they need each other. None of this is to excuse the Sixers for going down 3-0 in that series, favorites for a reason, and their inability to hold the lead in games 2 and 3 added to that What has been a crazy habit this season is just blaming yourself for their predicament.
But it's been a long time to realize what the Celtics have, just as they do not is a very good team playing their best basketball of the season, their defense was also a constant, no matter who was available.
As much as the Sixers lost their chance, the Celtics made it their own, that's more as just coaching and its way more than luck and luck, this is talent, and the Cs are loaded with aspiring star power.