Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics (-5, 170.5)
SERIES ODDS TO WIN: 76ers +175, Celtics -250
THE STORY: The Philadelphia 76ers are participating in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs for the first time in nine years as they open play against the division-rival Celtics in Boston on Saturday. Eighth-seeded Philadelphia defeated the injury-depleted Chicago Bulls in six games in the opening round while fifth-seeded Boston ousted the Atlanta Hawks in six games. The Celtics are in the second round for the fifth straight season. The 76ers won two of three regular-season meetings.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, TNT
ABOUT THE 76ERS: Philadelphia had lost five consecutive playoff series before toppling the Bulls. Guard Andre Iguodala hit two free throws with 2.2 seconds left in Thursday’s series-clinching 79-78 victory. The 76ers won the finale despite being outrebounded 56-33 and will need to perform better in that area to upset the Celtics. Center Spencer Hawes averaged 15.5 points and 10.3 rebounds over the last four games of the Chicago series while point guard Jure Holiday averaged a team-best 18.2 points against the Bulls. Top reserve Lou Williams finished second in NBA Sixth Man of the Year alloting announced Thursday.
ABOUT THE CELTICS: Forwards Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett and point guard Rajon Rondo took turns being stars in the series against Atlanta. Pierce was strong early in the series before injuring his left knee, Rondo had a triple-double in Game 3 and Garnett hit the go-ahead basket in the clinching game to cap off a performance in which he had 28 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots. Guard Ray Allen has been inconsistent while battling an ankle injury and fellow backcourt mate Avery Bradley (shoulder) also is laboring. Rondo averaged 13.3 points in the three regular-season meetings against Philadelphia.
- 76ers are 5-11 ATS in their last 16 games as an underdog.
- Celtics are 11-4-1 ATS in their last 16 home games.
- 76ers are 5-2 ATS in the last seven meetings.
1. Boston and Philadelphia last met in the postseason in 2002 when the Celtics won the best-of-five first-round series 3-2.
2. Celtics coach Doc Rivers recorded his 50th postseason win on Thursday, third-most in franchise history behind Red Auerbach (90) and K.C. Jones (65).
3. Iguodala had 11 steals and just four turnovers in the six-game series with Chicago.