Celtics insist they won’t overlook 76ers
The Celtics admit they expected to get past Atlanta in the first round — and that they would see Chicago in the conference semifinals.
“Of course,” said Paul Pierce. “I mean, they were the favorite, the No. 1 seed. But you can’t take (Philadelphia) lightly.”
The Celtics insist they won’t do that, and certainly that point was hammered home as they had to come back for a 92-91 win over the 76ers in Game 1 Saturday night in Boston. Game 2 is Monday.
“This is a difficult matchup for us — probably in some ways more so (than Chicago) because they have more athleticism,” coach Doc Rivers said of the Sixers. “The athleticism is what’s bothered us in the past. They have speed and athleticism and youth. That has been just as deadly for us.”
The Celts survived an early 13-point lead by the Sixers on Saturday, perhaps waking up some of the Boston fans who were expecting this to be easier.
Part of the reason people might tend to overlook the 76ers is because they don’t have some of the big names that dot other rosters.
“I think people get caught up in that, but it doesn’t matter,” said Ray Allen. “You’ve got to respect them 100 percent. You can’t be thinking this is a team that nobody knows who exactly is on the team that can play well. They’ve got guys that play hard. They’ve got a deep bench.
“You go into a playoff series, and these guys are playing well together. It’s not about one guy taking the shot. Those are the teams that are more dangerous, because you have an all-around attack.”
Rajon Rondo thinks it won’t matter as much if the Celts are able to shut off one or two things the 76ers like to do. That’s because they get their offense from so many different directions.
“They’re a very young, athletic team that causes a lot of turnovers, and they’re a unique team — kind of similar to Indiana,” said Rondo. “Not just one guy is the star. Five or six guys score in double digits, so it’s going to have to be a great team effort from us just to slow those guys down.”
But for those figuring the Sixers will be an easier opponent for the Celtics simply because they’re not the Bulls, Allen offered a warning.
“They’re here for a reason,” he said. “You know, Philly’s here for a reason. You can’t look at a team as an 8 seed and say one way or the other. You’ve got to come out and be very particular in how you approach this game and how you focus on trying to beat this team and move on. I don’t look at any seed.
“Chicago, despite being injured, you look at their record without Derrick Rose and they played great basketball all year. Philly still beat them and beat them convincingly.”