Sixers get history lesson on Celtics rivalry before game one
Brett Brown wanted his players to understand the rich history of the Philadelphia 76ers' rivalry with the Boston Celtics.
When it comes to great rivalries in the NBA, the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers stand alone, at least in terms of their number of postseason meetings.
Boston and Philadelphia have met 19 different times in the playoffs – the most by any two teams in postseason history (the Celtics have won 12 of those series).
And the rivalry simmers during the regular season, too; that infamous brawl between Julius Erving and Larry Bird came during an early season game in 1984.
Sixers head coach Brett Brown knows that fight and most of those great playoff matchups happened before his players were even born.
So ahead of Monday's game-one clash in the Eastern Conference semi-finals, Brown had his team watch a video on the Philadelphia-Boston rivalry.
"It was the first thing that we showed this morning," Brown told reporters. "Because I grew up in New England and I'm not young. I get the history of what goes on with our two organisations intimately. I think it's incredibly exciting to revisit that with my young guys and show them, before we even got into X's and O's and scout tape, a look at the history here.
"It's something historic and something very special. In the series that we're about to play and compete in, there's a lot that's gone on long before us that is worth knowing about. I enjoy educating our young players about that history."
The video, featuring highlights of legends such as Celtics center Bill Russell and 76ers center Wilt Chamberlain, resonated with players.
"With Wilt and Bill and all the guys that have laid the foundation for us to play now, obviously it was before we were born but you appreciate the talent that they had and the rivalry that was put in place," guard T.J. McConnell said.
Actually, the young Sixers stars might know more about 76ers-Celtics history than Brown thinks.
Center Joel Embiid told ESPN he has been studying the rivalry the past few days. His favourite part? That aforementioned 1984 fight, with "Dr. J and Larry Bird holding each other's necks," Embiid said.
"There's a deep history between the two teams. Really two of the most storied franchises in NBA history," 76ers guard JJ Redick told ESPN. "It's obviously an honor to play in that rivalry."