Friday, December 7, 2012
Pregame: Two-game playoff for C's-76ers
By Chris Forsberg
PHILADELPHIA -- Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers reaffirmed his love of home-and-home series before Friday's game against the Philadelphia 76ers, but admits he can see why other coaches might despise them.
Boston and Philadelphia meet Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center, before a rematch on Saturday night at TD Garden.
"I like it, I’ve always liked it, [but] I think most coaches don’t like it," said Rivers. "I just have always thought it was very competitive, from a playing standpoint. You play the same team back-to-back, the game becomes very competitive, almost chippy. I enjoy that. So I like it. The downside to it is that it’s very, very hard to win both games. And I think that’s why most coaches don’t like it, but when it’s two good teams, it’s even more dangerous because you could lose both. It’s just hard, a hard way to do it. I like it, but I can see why most don’t."
According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Celtics and 76ers have competed in 10 home-and-homes on consecutive days, with Boston sweeping four, Philadelphia sweeping two, and the two sides splitting the other four. Like a baseball doubleheader, it's usually a split when two good teams meet. The Celtics and 76ers enter with matching records and are plenty familiar with each other after a seven-game dance in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals last season.
"We’ve seen each other a lot lately, obviously," said Rivers. "The game plan is shorter [with a back-to-back], you know why they beat you and who beat you. You know what they are doing, then you’re going to have to try to stop it and they are going to counter that. But when you play the next night, whatever happens today, one team will have to get to work and try to change it, and the other team will try to keep it the same. It’s just fun, I enjoy it."
A few other pregame notes:
* Despite the virus that's spread in the Celtics' locker room recently, the team appears at full strength. Both Leandro Barbosa and Jared Sullinger, who have battled the illness, appear ready to go.
* The 76ers are without Nick Young (left great toe hyperextension). But it's always great when Philadelphia coach Doug Collins casually drops a "Swaggy" reference while talking about Young as he did on Friday noting, "We’ve missed Swaggy for a few games now, so that hurts." Kwame Brown was also a game-time decision with the stomach bug.
* Rivers heaped praise on Philadelphia point guard Jrue Holiday, and sounded an awful lot like he was talking about Rajon Rondo as he complimented Holiday and suggested he was an All-Star.
"His shot set him free," said Rivers. "I thought he struggled early on [in his career], he was inconsistent. People were going under all of his pick-and-rolls, then he started making that shot, and now you have to go over the top of the pick-and-rolls and he’s splitting them, he’s getting to the basket, he’s making great decisions. But I think his shot is what allowed him to see the floor more now and make him so much more dangerous. The other part -- the part I love about him over the skill part -- he’s a tough kid. He comes to compete, every night. Doesn’t mean perfect game, he’s a tough guard for us and everyone because he’s stronger than he was, you can visually see that. But he’s just a tough kid, really good player. All-Star player."