NBA Playoffs: Everything you need to know about Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers

(Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images) /
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Boston Celtics
(Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images) /

Key Question No.1: Who will win the coaching battle?

Both Brad Stevens and Brett Brown have spent the last seven years coaching their respective teams and have faced more than their fair share of adversity along the way. Brown is essentially coaching for his job at this point, while Stevens just signed another extension to remain the Celtics head coach for the foreseeable future.

Though it is fair to say Brown had the more difficult journey, working under three different front office regimes and coaching through the grandest display of tanking dubbed The Process.

Nevertheless, coaching through a rebuild is never easy, especially not for first-time NBA head coaches. Despite neither ever winning a Coach of the Year award, nor making a trip to the NBA Finals, both have achieved some level of success.

Brown has a better postseason win percentage (.545) than his counterpart (.482), but Stevens has more experience and achieved more postseason success. This season will be the third consecutive year that the Sixers are in the playoffs with Brown as the coach, and this is the sixth consecutive season the Celtics are in the playoffs with Stevens at the helm.

In both of the first two years of making the playoffs, Brown and the 76ers were eliminated in the conference semi-finals. The first time they suffered postseason defeat was in 2018, in a five-game drubbing at the hands of an overachieving Celtics squad led by Tatum, Brown, and current Sixer Al Horford.

Last year the Sixers were a few bounces and one teen wolf-Esque shot by Kawhi Leonard from potentially defeating the Toronto Raptors and advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals. Many believe they would have trounced the Milwaukee Bucks in the ECF and gone on to the NBA Finals, had Leonard missed that shot in Game 7

Despite Stevens’ sub .500 record in the playoffs, he has been credited for much the reason why this Celtics team has continuously exceeded expectations. Twice (2017, 2018) Stevens has coached his way into the ECF, only to lose to a LeBron James led Cleveland Cavaliers team both times. The latter of which they came one game within reaching the NBA Finals.

Both have dealt with a lot of roster overhaul and interchanging pieces over the years. Still, the Celtics being perennial playoff contenders for the last six years and the next decade or so to come speaks to Stevens’ uncanny ability to get players to buy in and make adjustments on the fly.

Brett Brown has continuously disappointed in that department. It only took him 65 games, a global pandemic, and a four-month hiatus to realize and accept that a lineup featuring Simmons, Embiid and Horford was never going to work.

Brown’s inability to make the proper in-game in addition to in-season adjustments in a timely fashion, poor in-game decisions and inconsistent rotations has contributed to the team’s constant underachievement in the last two years.

Even if Simmons was healthy, the Celtics have a vital upper hand in the coaching department. Brad Stevens is one of the brightest minds in the league and will coach circles around most of the NBA, let alone a coach who is obviously in over his head.