Revenge is one of the sweetest things you can achieve in sports. Whether it is beating a team that previously beat you, or proving a doubter wrong. A Championship run is the most exciting thing in sports. That is why I’ve composed the best possible playoff schedule for the ultimate 76ers’ Revenge Tour.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: Miami Heat

The addition of Jimmy Butler last year put the Sixers in the true top tier of the league. After an electric playoff performance from Butler that ultimately ended in defeat, the city of Philadelphia knew how close they were to winning a championship. “Run It Back” became the theme of the offseason. It seemed like everyone in the organization was on board with keeping basically the same team in Philly and making another playoff run except for one man. Jimmy Butler.

After Butler requested to be traded to the Miami Heat, he quickly went from hero to villain. What better way to get revenge on Butler then to beat the team he would rather play within the playoffs.

The leader of this battle may be a surprise to some, but it would most likely be Josh Richardson. Richardson was the player the 76ers got in return for Jimmy Butler. Richardson has been on record saying he wants to get his revenge on the team that traded him.

“I want to kill the Heat. I want to beat them by 20. That’s just how I’m built. If I was on the Heat, I would want to beat Philly by 50 because that’s just how the rivalary, how our teams went.” ~ Josh Richardson on NBC Sports 

The second half of Richardson’s comment also leads to another reason why beating the Heat would feel a little better than any other team. The 76ers and Heat had a pretty heated (no pun intended) 1st round playoff matchup two years ago. The Sixers dominated the series, winning in five games, but the entire series was extremely physical and intense.

In game four at Miami, a fight broke out after a hard foul by Robert Covington on Goran Dragic while Dragic was on a fast break after a loose ball. James Johnson of the Miami Heat clearly did not like that and got into the face of Covington. Ben Simmons came over in defense of his teammate, which resulted in Simmons and Johnson having to be separated. On the other end of the floor, coincidentally Josh Richardson was on the ground injured due to the previous play. Joel Embiid had lost the ball on offense, and Embiid dove and crashed into three Miami Heat players; Josh Richardson, Hassan Whiteside, and Justice Winslow. The play left Richardson injured and gave Winslow a bloody cut on his face.

The altercation ended with Covington and Johnson receiving technicals. The fight also had some history to it, as Justice Winslow had previously stepped on and broke Joel Embiid’s goggles on purpose just one game earlier during the series in game three.

Johnson, Winslow, and Dragic all remain on the Heat along with their new teammate Jimmy Butler. A playoff series victory over this team would definitely not only feel terrific but would bring some vengeance to Philadelphia.

Eastern Conference Semifinals: Toronto Raptors

Last year’s season ended for the 76ers in Toronto on the craziest buzzer-beater of all time from none other than Kawhi Leonard. As painful as it was, it showed that Philadelphia was a few bounces away from making the Eastern Conference Finals. Considering the Raptors went on to win the NBA Finals, it very easily could have been the Sixers winning the Finals.

Although their best player Kawhi Leonard is no longer on the team, outside of Danny Green the Raptors were able to keep basically everyone else. A Sixers’ victory would not mean as much as beating the same Raptors squad from last year, there is no doubt that beating them would still feel very satisfying.

While the Raptors did lose one of the best players in the league in Leonard and their starting Shooting Guard Green, they are still a very talented roster and would give Philadelphia a tougher series than Miami would. The Raptors still feature players such as; All-Star Point Guard Kyle Lowry, last year’s most improved player Pascal Siakam, former Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol, Fred VanVleet, Serge Ibaka and more quality players.

Not to mention it would shut up Drake and prove who the REAL best super fan is in the NBA.

Eastern Conference Finals: Boston Celtics

For newer or younger fans, this revenge is about the 2018 playoff series that the Celtics beat the 76ers in. But this rivalry extends back much more than that. Believe it or not, this rivalry is actually older than the 76ers. If you are wondering how that is possible, back in the very beginning of the NBA the Philadelphia 76ers did not exist. In the beginning, there were only eight teams, three of which were; the Boston Celtics, Syracuse Nationals, and Philadelphia Warriors. In 1962, the Warriors would leave Philadelphia to become the San Fransisco (now Golden State) Warriors. That left an opening in Philadelphia and in 1963 the Syracuse Nationals would move there and become the Philadelphia 76ers.

From 1954 to 1956, the Syracuse Nationals beat the Celtics in three straight playoff series, with the Syracuse Nationals winning the NBA Championship in 1955. But after the 1956 season, the Boston Celtics drafted future NBA legend, Bill Russell. The Celtics would dominate the Nationals once Bill Russell got to Boston. The Celtics would win the next three playoff series against the Nationals.

Shortly after the move from Syracuse to Philadelphia, the 76ers would make a huge trade in 1965 for another NBA legend, Wilt Chamberlain. This rivalry already had bad blood. Chamberlain’s first team was actually the Philadelphia Warriors. The Warriors were also huge rivals of the Boston Celtics, so Chamberlain was already hated in Boston. Chamberlain and Russell would have legendary battles against each other as the leaders of their respective teams.

From 1965 to 1968, the 76ers and Celtics met in the Eastern Conference Finals for four years straight. The Celtics would beat the 76ers in three of those four matchups. Each year during that timespan the NBA Champion was also either the Celtics or 76ers.

The Rivalry would renew in the late 70s and earlier 80s. The 76ers were now equipped with Julius “Dr. J” Erving and eventually Moses Malone. The Celtics would have Larry Bird and several other future Hall-of-Famers. The two teams would meet five times between 1977 and 1985, with the 76ers winning three of those series and the Celtics winning two.

All in all the Celtics and 76ers/Nationals have met a record 21 times in the playoffs, with the Celtics winning 13 of those matchups.

Out with the Old, In with the New

By now you can tell that this rivalry is much more than just about the latest battles against one another. It’s time to get into why beating the current Boston Celtics would feel so good, although it feels even better when you tie the history into it. In 2018, the Sixers and Celtics met in the 2nd round. Although the series only lasted for 5 games resulting in a Boston victory, the series was much than it looks, with three games being decided by 5 or fewer points and one of those games going to overtime.

Much like the Miami series, one of Philadelphia’s new additions will possibly be the leader in this series. Al Horford was a major contributor for the Boston Celtics in the four years he played for them. Making the Eastern Conference Finals twice and the playoffs all four years. He was an All-Star for them and also made an All-Defensive 2nd Team while in Boston. While Horford may not have quite as much motivation as Richardson since Horford came to Philly as a Free Agent, not as a trade piece, there is no doubt Horford will want to prove that he made the right choice in leaving Boston and coming to Philly.

While some players from that series are no longer on the Celtics, such as; Terry Rozier, Marcus Morris, and Aron Baynes. A good amount of that 2018 playoffs Celtics team is still there; Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart for example. Not to mention all the additions the Celtics have made.

Yes, Kyrie Irving (who was injured during that series) is gone, but the Celtics now have Gordon Hayward (who was also injured during that series), Enes Kanter, and most notably Kemba Walker. While Hayward does not really have any bad blood with Philadelphia, Kanter and Walker definitely do.

The controversial Kanter has gotten into many altercations with the 76ers over his career, coming from several teams. Last season, while on the Trail Blazers, Kanter got into it with Ben Simmons and Mike Scott, resulting in Scott and Kanter getting technicals. Kanter has also gotten into plenty of physical games with Joel Embiid, most notably on Christmas Day in 2017 while Kanter was on the Knicks. The 76ers ended up winning 105-98 as Joel Embiid put up 25 points, 16 rebounds while Kanter put up a very impressive 31 points and 22 rebounds.

Meanwhile, Kemba Walker has been an Achilles heel for the 76ers at times. Walker always seems to put up ridiculous numbers against the 76ers, and that was just as true last year when Walker scored a mind-boggling 60 points against Philly, scoring well over half of his team’s points. The three-time All-Star who always seems to have his best games against you also joining your biggest rival is not ideal, but it makes a victory that much more sweeter. The only two teams Walker has a higher career point per game average against than the 76ers (21.7) are the Phoenix Suns (22.5) and Memphis Grizzlies (22.2), each by less than one point more per game.

NBA Finals: Los Angeles Clippers

At first glance, this may just look like a revenge game against Kawhi Leonard, but there are a few other storylines that would make this series extra interesting. Such as with the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics, the 76ers feature two plays who played for the Los Angeles Clippers last year in Tobias Harris and Mike Scott (although they were traded mid-season). Harris, more like Horford than Richardson, does not seem to have any beef with his former team, but as we all know, players love to get revenge on their former teams.

While the Clippers have two former 76ers of their own in Landry Shamet and Lou Williams, Philadelphia has no ill feelings towards either one. But if these two teams were to meet in the NBA Finals, that may not hold true.

Ironically, these two teams got in a fight last year before the trade that resulted in Shamet joining the Clippers and Harris and Scott joining the Sixers. The scrummage did not involve any of those players though. The main perpetrators were Patrick Beverley and (now Laker) Avery Bradley. Beverley going after Embiid and Bradley going after Simmons and Butler. Beverley is known as one of the feistiest players in the league and prides himself on getting under opponents’ skin.

We all know that beating Kawhi Leonard would feel the best out of anyone on the team. Especially after he sent the 76ers home in a thrilling seven-game series. Leonard had one of the greatest playoff performances of all-time against the Sixers, averaging an absurd 34.7 points per game. He broke the hearts of everyone in the city of Philadelphia, and beating him in the Finals would be perfect justice.

With how crazy the off-season has been, one can almost forget that last year’s 3rd place MVP Paul George also joined Kawhi Leonard on the Clippers. George has his own history with the Sixers, mainly with his time on the Thunder. Last season he buried the 76ers with an agonizing buzzer-beater.

George also clashed with the 76ers in 2017 while on the Pacers. This was when George barreled over former Sixer Gerald Henderson.

Although all of these matchups may not happen, if the 76ers were able to go on a title run while taking down these four teams it would certainly be the best possible outcome. Either way, a Philadelphia championship run would be the greatest thing ever for most Sixers fans.

Featured Image: 
Comments are closed.

Check Also

Even Before the Ink Was Dry

Like July of 1776, Philadelphia Is Positioning Itself To Make History Once Again. Two Hund…