By Justin McKinney, Sports Editor
If the NBA has any hope of keeping their playoff ratings up and continuing to grow off the success that the revamped Eastern Conference had this season, then they need the Celtics to play the 76ers in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.
For the past four years the Eastern Conference has been largely uninteresting to watch and it seems every team has just been vying for a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals and an eventual loss to the Cavaliers or prior to that the Heat.
Of late, it has not even mattered who left the East as a loss to the Western Conference winner seemed inevitable and this year seems to be following suit as the Rockets and Warriors look like the big favorites to win the NBA Finals.
However, given the grittiness of both rosters in players like Aaron Baynes, Greg Monroe, and Marcus Smart on the Celtics. And Joel Embiid as well as Ben Simmons on the 76ers, this series could be a ton of fun to watch. Not to mention, as Embiid and Simmons emerge as young stars in the East, they are doing so alongside Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum and sophomore Jaylen Brown; who are both making cases for why they could eventually be franchise players themselves.
On paper this series has all of the makings for some of the most entertaining basketball the Eastern Conference has seen in ages. I highly doubt either team will be crowned NBA champs at the end of the season; however, this series is a precursor for the future.
As both teams develop into next season there is an argument to be made that with offseason additions or in the Celtics case having a healthy roster; both these teams could unseat the Rockets and Warriors as the powerhouses of the NBA.
In a way it reminds me of the ’86 playoff series between the Bulls and Celtics that featured Michael Jordan dropping 63 on the Celtics in one game, despite losing the series. It was a sign of things to come, it may not have been his year in ’86; but he put the NBA on notice that he was about to own that league.
This is essentially what I believe both these teams are doing with this could be series. Regardless, of what the 76ers players might say about this year, we all know they cannot beat the Western Conference and the Celtics are in the same boat until they have a healthy Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.
However, this series could show who is in the best position to make a run at the league and prove that Eastern Conference teams can consistently beat the West. This series would boost ratings for the league and get people talking about the East. I really don’t even think it matters very much who wins, what matters is that if these two teams face off then it is going to be a seven or six game blood bath that I going to make people want to watch Eastern Conference basketball, which the league desperately needs.