Boston Celtics v Philadelphia 76ers

76ers get history lesson on Celtics rivalry before Game 1

Julius Erving and Larry Bird
Julius Erving and Larry Bird (Getty Images)

When it comes to great rivalries in the NBA, the Celtics and 76ers stand alone, at least in terms of their number of postseason meetings.

The two teams have met 19 different times in the playoffs, the most by any two teams in postseason history (the Celtics have won 12 of those series). And the rivalry between the two teams simmers during the regular season, too; that infamous brawl between Julius Erving and Larry Bird came during an early season game in 1984.

76ers coach Brett Brown knows that fight and most of those great playoff matchups happened before his players were even born. So ahead of Monday's Game 1 meeting between the two teams in the Eastern Conference semifinals, Brown had his team watch a video on the Philadelphia-Boston rivalry.

"It was the first thing that we showed this morning," Brown told reporters (via The Philadelphia Inquirer). "Because I grew up in New England and I'm not young. I get the history of what goes on with our two organizations intimately. I think it's incredibly exciting to revisit that with my young guys and show them, before we even got into X's and O's and scout tape, a look at the history here.

"It's something historic and something very special. In the series that we're about to play and compete in, there's a lot that's gone on long before us that is worth knowing about. I enjoy educating our young players about that history."

The video, featuring highlights of legends such as Celtics center Bill Russell and 76ers center Wilt Chamberlain, resonated with players.

"With Wilt and Bill and all the guys that have laid the foundation for us to play now, obviously it was before we were born but you appreciate the talent that they had and the rivalry that was put in place," guard T.J. McConnell said.

Actually, the young 76ers stars might know more about 76ers-Celtics history than Brown thinks. Center Joel Embiid told ESPN he's been studying the rivalry the past few days. His favorite part? That aforementioned 1984 fight, with "Dr. J and Larry Bird holding each other's necks," Embiid said.

"There's a deep history between the two teams. Really two of the most storied franchises in NBA history," 76ers guard JJ Redick told ESPN. "It's obviously an honor to play in that rivalry."

In case you've never seen it, here's that 1984 brawl between the 76ers and Celtics. More memories will be made in Game 1, which is set for 8 p.m.

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