Boston Celtics vs Philadelphia 76ers NBA Rivalry

Morgan Wolf

Boston Celtics vs Philadelphia 76ers

The NBA is renowned for its historic rivalries, and one enduring showdown that continues to captivate basketball fans is the matchup between the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers. 

With a rich tapestry of shared history, legendary players, and a quest for Eastern Conference supremacy, this fierce rivalry has stood the test of time. 

In this blog post, we delve into the captivating highlights, controversies, and frequently asked questions surrounding the epic Boston Celtics vs Philadelphia 76ers NBA rivalry.

Join us as we unravel the tales that have woven this storied basketball rivalry into the fabric of the sport.

What is Boston Celtics?

The Boston Celtics are a professional basketball team based in Boston, Massachusetts. They are one of the most successful franchises in the history of the National Basketball Association (NBA). 

The Celtics were founded in 1946 and are a member of the league’s Eastern Conference Atlantic Division.

The team has a storied history and a rich tradition of success. They have won a record 17 NBA championships, the most in NBA history, with their first championship coming in 1957. 

The Celtics’ dominance in the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s is widely regarded as one of the greatest dynasties in sports history.

Led by legendary coach Red Auerbach and iconic players such as Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, John Havlicek, and Larry Bird, the Celtics captured a remarkable 11 championships in 13 seasons from 1957 to 1969.

History of Boston Celtics

History of Boston Celtics


The history of the Boston Celtics is filled with success, iconic players, and a tradition of excellence. Let’s take a journey through the key moments and accomplishments that have shaped the Celtics’ storied franchise.

Founding and Early Years (1946-1956)

The Celtics were founded in 1946 as one of the original teams in the Basketball Association of America (BAA), which later merged with the National Basketball League (NBL) to form the NBA.

In their early years, the Celtics struggled to find success, but in 1950, they acquired point guard Bob Cousy, who would become one of the franchise’s greatest players.

Rise to Dominance (1957-1969)

The Celtics’ golden era began in 1956 when they hired Red Auerbach as head coach and acquired Bill Russell, a dominant center who would revolutionize the game.

From 1957 to 1969, the Celtics won a remarkable 11 NBA championships, including a record eight consecutive titles from 1959 to 1966.

Led by Russell, along with stars like Bob Cousy, Bill Sharman, Tom Heinsohn, John Havlicek, and Sam Jones, the Celtics epitomized teamwork and a selfless style of play known as “Celtic Pride.”

The Larry Bird Era (1979-1992)

In the late 1970s, the Celtics were rebuilding, and in the 1978 NBA Draft, they selected Larry Bird as the sixth overall pick.

Bird, along with other talented players like Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson, and Danny Ainge, formed the nucleus of a new Celtics dynasty.

During the 1980s, the Celtics had intense rivalries with teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and the Detroit Pistons. They won three championships in 1981, 1984, and 1986.

The Paul Pierce Era and the New Big Three (2003-2013)

In the early 2000s, the Celtics faced a period of struggles. However, in 2003, they acquired Paul Pierce, who would become the face of the franchise.

In 2007, the Celtics orchestrated a blockbuster trade to form a new “Big Three” by pairing Pierce with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.

The Celtics returned to dominance and won the NBA championship in 2008, defeating their longtime rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers, in the Finals.

Recent Years (2013-Present)

Since the departure of the Big Three, the Celtics have undergone a rebuilding phase while maintaining a competitive edge.

Led by young talents like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, along with the coaching of Brad Stevens, the Celtics have consistently made the playoffs and remain a contender in the Eastern Conference.

Throughout their history, the Boston Celtics have established a legacy of success, with 17 NBA championships, 21 conference titles, and numerous Hall of Fame players and coaches. 

The team’s commitment to teamwork, grit, and a winning culture has solidified its position as one of the most respected and iconic franchises in NBA history.

What Is Philadelphia 76ers?

What Is Philadelphia 76ers?


The Philadelphia 76ers are a professional basketball team based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They are a member of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and compete in the league’s Eastern Conference Atlantic Division. 

The team was founded in 1946 as the Syracuse Nationals before relocating to Philadelphia in 1963 and changing its name to the Philadelphia 76ers.

The name “76ers” pays homage to the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia in 1776, a significant event in American history. The team’s colors are blue, red, and white.

History of Philadelphia 76ers

The 76ers have a rich history and have been home to some of the NBA’s greatest players. Here are some key points in the team’s history:

Early Success (1950s-1960s)

The Syracuse Nationals won the NBA championship in 1955, led by the legendary Dolph Schayes.

The team relocated to Philadelphia in 1963 and became the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Wilt Chamberlain Era (1960s)

The 76ers acquired center Wilt Chamberlain in 1965, who went on to become one of the most dominant players in NBA history.

In the 1966-67 season, with Chamberlain leading the way, the 76ers won their second NBA championship.

The Julius Erving Era (1970s-1980s)

In 1976, the 76ers acquired Julius Erving, one of the most electrifying players of his time.

Erving, known as “Dr. J,” led the 76ers to the NBA Finals in 1977, where they fell short to the Portland Trail Blazers.

In 1983, with Erving and a talented roster that included Moses Malone, Maurice Cheeks, and Andrew Toney, the 76ers won their third NBA championship.

The Allen Iverson Era (1990s-2000s)

Allen Iverson, one of the most iconic and dynamic guards in NBA history, played for the 76ers from 1996 to 2006.

In the 2000-2001 season, Iverson led the team to the NBA Finals, where they faced the Los Angeles Lakers but fell short of the championship.

“The Process” and Current Era

In recent years, the 76ers underwent a rebuilding phase known as “The Process,” which involved acquiring high draft picks and developing young talent.

The team has seen success with the emergence of players like Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, becoming playoff contenders in the Eastern Conference.

Throughout their history, the Philadelphia 76ers have had a loyal fan base and have made numerous playoff appearances. The team’s commitment to excellence and its legacy of notable players have cemented its place in NBA history.

Boston Celtics vs Philadelphia 76ers NBA Rivalry

The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers have a long-standing NBA rivalry that dates back several decades. This rivalry has featured unforgettable moments, involved notable coaches and players, and has occasionally been marred by controversies. Let’s delve into the highlights of this storied rivalry:

Unforgettable Moment

One of the most unforgettable moments in the Celtics-76ers rivalry came during the 1980s when Larry Bird and Julius Erving squared off in the 1981 Eastern Conference Finals. 

In Game 7, Bird and Erving engaged in a fierce duel, with Bird scoring 20 fourth-quarter points to lead the Celtics to a 91-90 victory. This game is remembered as one of the greatest playoff performances and solidified Bird’s status as an NBA superstar.

Involved Coaches and Players

Over the years, this rivalry has seen the involvement of legendary coaches and players from both teams. For the Celtics, icons like Bill Russell, Larry Bird, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett have played pivotal roles.

On the 76ers’ side, Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving, Moses Malone, and Allen Iverson have left an indelible mark on the rivalry. These players’ skills, leadership, and competitive spirit have fueled the intensity of Celtics-76ers matchups.


Like any fierce rivalry, the Celtics-76ers rivalry has had its fair share of controversies. One notable controversy occurred during the 2002 Eastern Conference Finals when Paul Pierce and Philadelphia’s Eric Snow got into a scuffle. 

This incident led to a heated exchange and highlighted the intense emotions that often accompany high-stakes playoff matchups.

Recent News

  • In the 2020-2021 NBA season, the Celtics and 76ers faced off in the first round of the playoffs. Despite the absence of key Celtics players due to injuries, Boston managed to defeat Philadelphia in a closely contested series, advancing to the next round.
  • Off the court, the rivalry was intensified by the trade involving Al Horford. After spending a season with the 76ers, Horford was traded to the Celtics in a deal that garnered attention from both fan bases.
  • In 2021, the 76ers finished atop the Eastern Conference standings, setting the stage for potential playoff clashes with the Celtics in the future. This further fueled the rivalry, as both teams aimed to assert their dominance in the conference.
  • Despite changes in rosters and eras, the Celtics-76ers rivalry remains strong, fueled by a shared desire for supremacy in the Eastern Conference. With the legacy of both franchises and the talent on their respective rosters, this rivalry promises to continue captivating NBA fans for years to come.

Boston Celtics vs Philadelphia 76ers: At a Glance

Here’s a table providing a concise overview of the rivalry between the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers:

Category Boston Celtics Philadelphia 76ers
Championships 17 (Most in NBA history) 3
First NBA Meeting December 21, 1949 December 21, 1949
Playoff Meetings 21 (as of 2021 NBA playoffs) 20 (as of 2021 NBA playoffs)
Playoff Series Wins Celtics: 14 Celtics: 7
  76ers: 6 76ers: 13
Notable Rivalry Larry Bird vs. Julius Erving (1980s) Bill Russell vs. Wilt Chamberlain
  Paul Pierce vs. Allen Iverson (2000s) (1960s)
Recent Playoff Clash 2020-2021 NBA Playoffs (First Round) 2020-2021 NBA Playoffs (First Round)


How did the Celtics-76ers rivalry originate?

The rivalry began in the late 1940s when both teams were part of the Basketball Association of America (BAA) before the NBA’s formation. Over the years, their frequent clashes in the playoffs and fierce competition for Eastern Conference dominance solidified the rivalry.

What are some memorable moments from the Celtics-76ers rivalry?

The rivalry has witnessed countless memorable moments, from Larry Bird’s iconic performance in the 1981 Eastern Conference Finals to the battles between Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell in the 1960s. These moments have shaped the rivalry’s history and left a lasting impact on the NBA.

Who are some key players involved in the rivalry?

Legendary players have donned the jerseys of both teams during the rivalry’s tenure. From the Celtics, icons like Bill Russell, Larry Bird, and Paul Pierce have left an indelible mark. On the 76ers side, Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving, and Allen Iverson have made significant contributions.

What controversies have arisen in the Celtics-76ers rivalry?

Like any intense rivalry, the Celtics-76ers matchup has had its fair share of controversies. From heated on-court exchanges to trades that shifted the balance of power, such incidents have further fueled the competitive fire between the teams.

How does the rivalry stand today?

The rivalry remains strong, with both teams vying for supremacy in the Eastern Conference. Recent playoff matchups have showcased the intensity and talent on display when the Celtics and 76ers meet on the court. As both teams continue to build and compete, the rivalry shows no signs of losing its luster.

Wrapping Up

The Boston Celtics vs Philadelphia 76ers NBA rivalry has captivated basketball fans for decades. With a rich history, memorable moments, and a shared desire for dominance, the Celtics and 76ers have etched their names in NBA lore. 

As the rivalry evolves and new chapters are written, fans can look forward to more intense battles, iconic performances, and a continuation of this storied basketball rivalry.

Thank you for your time.

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Morgan Wolf

Journalist with experience covering the intersection of sports with business. Demonstrated expertise in digital, video and social media content covering major sports including soccer, NBA, NFL, MLB, tennis and Olympic sports. But basketball is his passion. Specialties: expert for sports related content management LinkedIn