2012 NBA Playoffs Picks – Eastern Conference Semifinals Philadelphia 76ers vs Boston Celtics Series Price, Odds and Predictions: At the start of the year, neither Boston nor Philadelphia was expected to be much of a factor come playoff time. After all, the Celtics were too old and their core was going to be dismantled by the trade deadline, while the 76ers were still too young and inexperienced to win in the postseason. Well, both franchises have more than dismissed those preconceptions, as the Celtics took out the Atlanta Hawks in the first round and the eighth-seeded 76ers took advantage of any injury to defending MVP Derrick Rose to upset the top-seeded Bulls. Now, the teams will meet in the Eastern Conference Semifinals with a spot in the conference finals on up for grabs.

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2012 NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs Semifinals Philadelphia 76ers vs Boston Celtics Series Predictions and Previews:

The series figures to be a defensive struggle, with some excellent half-court basketball being played by both sides. Boston and Philadelphia ranked second and third in terms of points allowed this season, with both sides holding opponents to less than 90 points per game. The Celtics also led the league in opponent field goal percentage, while the 76ers ranked fourth in the category. Throw in the fact that both offenses ranked in the bottom 10 in terms of points per game, and there is a good chance that points will be tough to come by for as long as this series takes. Philadelphia won two of the three meetings with Boston this season, but both teams protected their home court, and the Celtics routed the 76ers in the final meeting in early April.

Boston has the two best players on the court in this series in point guard Rajon Rondo and small forward Paul Pierce. Rondo is particularly valuable because of his playmaking ability. The Celtics may not be a high-scoring team, but they are very efficient on the offensive end, ranking fifth in the NBA during the regular season. Rondo has had at  least 10 assists in 29 of his last 30 games, and getting his teammates open shots will be crucial against a tough Philadelphia defense. Throw in Pierce’s ability to close out tight games, and Boston’s edge in experience and star power cannot be overstated.

For their part, the 76ers have an edge in speed, depth and athleticism. Philadelphia has one of the youngest teams in the NBA, and while the lack of experience can be a disadvantage in the postseason, the 76ers also have a chance to push the tempo and wear out the older Celtics. Philadelphia also has the two best bench players in the series in guard Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young, and both players are capable of providing the added scoring bunch that could tip the scales in any games.

The X-factor in the series could be Boston’s Kevin Garnett. The veteran big man has been playing center for the depleted Boston frontcourt, and he seemed very motivated in the close out game against Atlanta in the opening round. Garnett dropped 28 points and 14 rebounds in Game 6, while logging three steals and five blocks. He looked every bit the player that won an MVP and a Defensive Player of the Year Award during his career. Facing an aging Elton Brand and an inexperienced Spencer Hawes in the Philadelphia frontcourt, the big games could just be beginning for the “Big Ticket.”

In the end, it is just hard to believe that the 76ers are ready to step up and knock off the Celtics. Yes, they knocked off a Chicago team that won the most games during the regular season, but losing a player like Rose made the Bulls a much different team. Boston on the other hand knows this is likely the final chance for this group of players to win a title. The Celtics’ style of play is built for the postseason, and they are as battle-tested as any team in either conference. Philadelphia’s speed could give Boston some issues, but the experience of Pierce and Garnett, along with the playmaking of Rondo, will be too much for the 76ers.

Prediction: Boston Celtics Win in 6 Games

Philadelphia 76ers vs Boston Celtics
Philadelphia 76ers +180
Boston Celtics -220

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