Philadelphia at Boston
Where: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
BOSTON – The Boston Celtics needed everything they had to survive a seven-game, first-round series with the Milwaukee Bucks. Their reward is an Eastern Conference semifinals matchup with one of the hottest teams in the league in the rested Philadelphia 76ers, who visit second-seeded Boston for Game 1 of a rivalry-fueled best-of-seven series Monday night.”It’s more than you can imagine, just a great feeling,” Celtics big man Al Horford told reporters after the first-round series, during which the home team won every game. “Our fans really gave us that energy. This is why you work so hard in the regular season, to put yourself with home-court advantage.” The third-seeded 76ers needed five games to get past Miami in the opening round and have been waiting for an opponent since finishing that series Tuesday night, affording more rest for the team that is far healthier coming into the series. “I can see in their faces that they are spirited, they are rested, for sure,” Philadelphia coach Brett Brown told reporters Saturday. “But they’re also antsy. They want to play.” The Celtics won three of four meetings during the regular season, including a matchup in London on Jan. 11.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, TNT
ABOUT THE 76ERS: While players may be antsy to play again, the prolonged rest cannot be a bad thing for star center Joel Embiid, who returned from an orbital fracture to play the final three games of the series with the Heat. He averaged 18.7 points and 10.3 rebounds in those three games and shot 8-of-14 from the floor in Game 5 after struggling a bit with his shot in the previous two contests. JJ Redick was Philadelphia’s top scorer versus the Heat with 20 points per game while rookie Ben Simmons showed he is well-suited for the big stage, averaging 18.2 points, 10.6 rebounds, nine assists and 2.4 steals in the series.
ABOUT THE CELTICS: The big question heading into Game 1 will be the status of shooting guard Jaylen Brown, who left the clincher against Milwaukee due to a hamstring injury and hopes to not miss any time. He is considered doubtful. “I was told that if we got in a pinch that he could play,” coach Brad Stevens told reporters after the win. “We decided that that was not going to happen. With hamstrings, let’s see how he feels.” Brown averaged 17.9 points against the Bucks, just a shade behind Horford (18.1), who will take on the assignment of matching up with Embiid.
1. Embiid was held to 17.3 points on 38.5 percent shooting in three matchups with Boston during the regular season.
2. Celtics PG Terry Rozier had 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting and nine assists in Game 7 against Milwaukee.
3. The rivals last met in the playoffs in 2012, when Boston won a conference semifinals matchup in seven games.