Philadelphia 76ers vs Boston Celtics: A rivalry filled with great players

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics have had great battles through the course of the league’s history. Here’s a timeline of the great battles told through the great players.

The Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics have had some of the best battles in NBA history, but their players are what have made the battles even greater.

From Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving, and Allen Iverson on the Sixers, to Bill Russell, Larry Bird, and Paul Pierce on the Celtics, these Eastern Conference rivals have had some of the best players in the league.

These teams have had a heated rivalry since the NBA started, and it is still going on today. These two teams have played a total of 105 games in the playoffs.

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If the playoffs were able to start today, the Sixers and Celtics would be facing each other in the first round – adding another notch in their storied rivalry

Here is the timeline of the Philly-Boston rivalry told through the great players.

1960s: Wilt versus Russell

Wilt Chamberlain is one of the greatest centers to ever play in the NBA. His greatest adversary, though, was Bill Russell.

Russell was able to get the upper hand in the rivalry in terms of championships though. Russell was able to get 11 rings and Wilt was only able to get two.

Wilt finished his career with averages of 30.1 points and 22.9 rebounds per game while shooting 54.0 percent from the field. Russell had 15.1 points and 22.5 rebounds per game.

Wilt and Russell battled each other three straight years in the Eastern Division Finals. Russell was able to take the first two matchups and Wilt was able to take the last matchup in 1967.

These two rivals will always be remembered for their fierce matchups.

1980s: Julius Erving versus Larry Bird

Julius Erving was a legend in terms of streetball and in the ABA and NBA. One of his biggest rivals in the league was Larry Bird.

Older fans can remember these two players fight in which they choked each other early in the 1984-85 season. During both of these  players’ tenure with their respected teams, they met in the playoffs four times.

The Sixers were able to win two of those Eastern Conference Finals matchups. The first one was in 1980 and the second one was in 1982.

Julius Erving was only able to win one championship during his time in the NBA and with the Sixers. Bird was able to win three.

Earving and Bird also ended out their careers with remarkably similar stat lines; with Erving averaged 24.2 points, 8.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game, and Bird averaged 24.3 points, 10 rebounds and 6.3 assists.

In 1996, Bird and Erving were a part of the 50 greatest players list.

The 00s: Allen Iverson and Paul Pierce

Allen Iverson and Paul Pierce are two of the modern household greats. The duo were not able to see much success in terms of championships though.

Iverson had one Finals appearance and was not able to win that championship contest. Pierce was able to win one championship and was the Finals MVP.

These two players only met once in the playoffs, in the 2002 Eastern Conference First Round.  The Boston Celtics won that series 3-2.

Iverson had the better career statistically. He had averages of 26.7 points and 6.2 assists per game whereas Pierce had 19.7 and 5.6 rebounds per game.

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These two players added to the luster of the Philadelphia 76ers-Boston Celtics rivalry.