Tidbits, stats and oddities ahead of a rather interesting meeting between old rivals Philadelphia and Boston. And what’s up with that Celtics guy being afraid of squirrels?
1. The Celtics start two rookies (Jayson Tatum, Semi Ojeleye), one guy with one year of experience (Jaylen Brown) and another with two years (Terry Rozier). Al Horford (10 years) is the fifth starter.
2. Ojeleye was born in Overland Park, Kan., after his parents emigrated from Nigeria. Dad (Ernest) is a doctor. Mom (Joy) is a nurse. Semi was a national honor student in high school. He began his college career at Duke and finished at SMU, where playing time was more abundant.
3. Aron Baynes was taken out of the starting lineup midway through the Celtics’ first-round series win over the Bucks because coach Brad Stevens thought Ojeleye provided better defensive options against Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton. Will be interesting to see if he’s called on to try to contain Ben Simmons.
4. Baynes, a New Zealander, signed as a free agent with the Spurs in the middle of the 2012-13 season, Brett Brown’s last as an assistant in San Antonio. Just like Simmons, Baynes is a product of the Australian Institute of Sport.
5. The first three picks of the 2016 draft were Simmons, Brandon Ingram (Lakers) and Jaylen Brown. All three are solid players.
|1||Monday, April 30||@Boston||8 p.m.||TNT|
|2||Thursday, May 3||@Boston||8:30 p.m.||TNT|
|3||Saturday, May 5||@Philadelphia||5 p.m.||TBD|
|4||Monday, May 7||@Philadelphia||6 p.m.||TNT|
|*5||Wednesday, May 9||@Boston||TBD||TNT|
|*6||Friday, May 11||@Philadelphia||TBD||ESPN|
|*7||Sunday, May 13||@Boston||TBD||TBD|
6. Jaylen Brown pulled a hamstring in Game 7 against the Bucks and played just 16 minutes. His Twitter handle is @FCHWPO, which stands for “Faith Consistency Hard Work Pay Off.”
7. Brown is a cousin of Jaguars star cornerback A.J. Bouye, who will be trying to pick off Carson Wentz (maybe?) passes in London in about six months.
8. When Brown, 21, dropped 30 points on the Bucks in Game 2, he became the youngest Celtic ever to score 30 in a playoff game. He broke the record set in 1957 by 22-year-old Tommy Heinsohn, who had 30 in a game against the Syracuse Nationals, the franchise that eventually moved to Philadelphia and became the 76ers.
9. Boston led the league in three-point field-goal defense at 33.9 percent. The Sixers were second at 34.2 percent.
The #Sixers are about to renew what was once a heated rivalry with the #Celtics. Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinal will be 8 pm Monday at #TDGarden. #Boston is 3-1 against #Philly this season. However, @marcobelinelli and @ErsanIlyasova7 weren’t #Sixers back then. pic.twitter.com/zFV3TCP9tc
— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) April 29, 2018
10. The Celtics visited Philadelphia just once this season, a 10-point Boston win on Oct. 20. The only other Sixers “home” game against the Celts was in London on Jan. 11, an 11-point Boston win.
11. Since the London game, Boston is 25-20. The Sixers are 37-11.
12. Jayson Tatum was the player Boston selected (at No. 3) when they swapped first-round picks with the Sixers, who were desperate to get Markelle Fultz at No. 1 overall in the last draft.
13. Moving up for Fultz cost the Sixers an extra first-round pick, which could be conveyed this year as a No. 2 or No. 3 overall selection depending on the May 15 lottery results.
14. The future is just as bright in Boston as it is in Philadelphia. Next season, the Celtics presumably will have injured all-stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward back in their lineup.
15. Boston won three of the four meetings with the Sixers this season. Irving played in the three wins (had 36 in one game) but was injured when the Sixers won in Boston on Jan. 18.
16. In the last 31 years, the Celtics have one NBA championship. The Sixers have none.
17. Terry Rozier, who took over at the point when Irving went down, listed Kevin Hart as his favorite comedian. Rozier also has an unhealthy fear of squirrels. “They’re sneaky to me,” he once told the Louisville Courier-Journal.
18. The only team that shot threes better during the season than Boston (37.7 percent) was Golden State (39.1).
19. Backup point guard Shane Larkin’s dad, Barry, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012.
Bonus item: Phillies pitchers that Barry Larkin homered off in his career reads like a late ‘80s/early ‘90s graveyard: Mike Mimbs (twice), Andy Ashby, Jay Baller, Joe Boever, Toby Borland, Don Carman, Jose de Jesus, Ken Howell, Greg Mathews, Terry Mulholland, Shane Rawley.
20. The Celtics were three-point favorites the last time they played the Sixers up in Boston. For Monday, they are 2.5-point underdogs. Boston is the only team to be home ‘dogs for Game 1 in this round.
21. Celtics deep reserve Jabari Bird likes to joke that he is Larry Bird’s nephew.
Choppin it up with Unc ☘️ pic.twitter.com/a9fkeCBaRZ
— Jabari Bird (@Jabari_Bird) April 12, 2018
22. Philadelphia native Marcus Morris, a Prep Charter alum, has won his last five games at the Wells Fargo Center. He’s averaging 20.7 points over the last three here.
23. Former Penn star Jerome Allen is one of five assistants on Stevens’ staff. Check out their alma maters: Jay Larranaga (Bowling Green), Micah Shrewsberry (Hanover College), Jamie Young (Blackburn College) and Scott Morrison (University of Prince Edward Island).
24. Stevens went to DePauw, a small Division III school in Indiana, and was working in the marketing department at pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly when he decided to get back into basketball as an unpaid assistant for Thad Matta at Butler in the summer of 2000.
25. Over the last 10 years, teams that needed seven games to get through Round 1 are 5-11 in the next series.