BOSTON — With under four minutes left and the Boston Celtics holding a comfortable lead in what would be a 112-96 Game 7 win over the Milwaukee Bucks, the TD Garden fans started chanting in unison.
“We want Philly, we want Philly,” they said,
Now they have Philly.
The third-seeded 76ers will meet the second-seeded Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinal that begins Monday in Boston.
Just moments after the win, Celtics coach Brad Stevens showed the upmost respect for his next opponent.
“They are playing great; they have a great team, a great coach and I think that everybody talks about (Joel) Embiid and (Ben) Simmons and rightfully so, but the skill they have added to their team and their other young guys getting better, obviously (JJ) Redick’s presence has just opened everything up,” Stevens said.
Few opponents know the Sixers better than Philadelphia’s own Marcus Morris, a star at Prep Charter who still spends considerable time in the city.
“The 76ers have been special all year, the run they went on, I have been watching them because I am a big Philly guy,” Morris said. “They have young players who are really stepping up and doing their thing.”
A player on Boston who also fits that description is rookie Jayson Tatum, who averaged 15.4 points in the series win over Milwaukee.
“We played them quite a bit,” said Tatum, whose team was 3-1 against the Sixers this season. “It has been a while since we played them (since Jan. 18), they are a very big, physical team.”
Stevens knew he couldn’t enjoy the Milwaukee series win very long because of the challenge that the Sixers present.
“They are a bear to play against,” Stevens said. “You can tell from the last series. I think Brett (Brown) is terrific, all down the line, they are terrific.”