The Philadelphia 76ers are riding high after they took advantage of a banged up Chicago Bulls team to become just the fifth No. 8 seed to knock off a No.1 seed in NBA playoff history.
The Boston Celtics are just happy to be alive after surviving a six-game war of a series with the Atlanta Hawks in which five of the six games were decided by seven points or less.
The two face off beginning Saturday night in Boston to kick off the second round of the NBA playoffs.
In a way that is what this series is all about. The Celtics are veteran. With an average age over 28, they are the experienced team that has been here before. The Celtics have made it to at least the second round of the playoffs every season since 2007.
The 76ers hadn't won a playoff series since 2003, and very few players on the roster have ever been this deep in an NBA playoff. On paper the advantages play in the Celtics favor.
But, the flip side of being veteran is that you are old. Boston is banged up and tired after the grueling 66-game lockout schedule. Paul Pierce has a strained MCL in his left knee, Ray Allen just got back on the floor after missing three weeks with bone spurs in his ankle and the lost the services of Jermaine O'Neil much earlier this year.
The 76ers have a few exciting pieces themselves. Jrue Holiday and Andre Iguodala have proven themselves to be consistent NBA players and Evan Turner has emerged during the playoffs as a dangerous third option, but the question remains can the 76ers youth find the energy to compete with the Celtics talent.
Prediction: The Celtics are nearly impossible to beat in the playoffs on their home floor. The team is now 30-8 at the TD Garden in the big three era in the post season. Look for the Celtics to take an early lead and not let up in a game that they use to establish their dominance.
Predicted Score: Boston over Philadelphia 110-90