The rivalry between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers has been rekindled, and the NBA appears ready to take advantage.
According to the Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn, the Celtics and Sixers may be one of the matchups slated to tip off the NBA’s regular season — a rematch of a heated Eastern Conference semifinal.
Hearing there’s a good chance TNT season-opening slate will be #Sixers–#Celtics and #Thunder–#Warriors on Oct. 16
— gary washburn (@GwashburnGlobe) August 1, 2018
This rivalry had the potential to be even stronger — with a pair of future stars in Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, the Sixers had the money to add a more established max free agent this offseason. Reportedly, LeBron James considered Philadelphia, and the Sixers could have made a play for Kawhi Leonard.
Instead, Philly will run back a very similar team — subtracting Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli while adding Zhaire Smith and Wilson Chandler. The Celtics, meanwhile, should have Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward back in the lineup. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum both blossomed with increased responsibility in the 2018 playoffs, and with a deep bench and plenty of versatility all over the court, Boston looks like the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.
Still, the Sixers won’t go down easily, and the rivalry with the Celtics is only getting more intense. Starting the season with a little bad blood will be a big move for ratings.