76ers, Celtics spar in opener but say it is too early to explain rivalry

The exclamation mark on the 105-87 season opening victory of the Celtics at division rival Philadelphia came midway through the fourth quarter, when Jaylen Brown pushed his head down and went fast to the basket.

Imposing the big man Joel Embiid stepped into his path and when Brown was placed higher for dipping, Embiid managed to claw the ball with both hands. Yet the ball still rattled in one way or another.

Brown turned and stared at the center of Sixers. He might as well have pointed to the scoreboard: 94-79 Celtics.

"I knew he would come," Brown told ESPN. "I had bad intentions, I had very bad intentions.

"He blocked it rather, but I overpowered it in the basket."

"That was not a dunk, it was a block," Embiid protested. "I got it with two hands, and then he got a lucky pitch, and it eventually went in. It was technically a block, I'm sure he knows that was not a dunk."

Both Brown and Embiid are too young to remember that Moses Malone & # 39; Fo & # 39 ;, fo & # 39 ;, fo & # 39; Larry Bird replied, "Moses at s – & # 39 ;, but once in a while the rivalry of Sixers-Celtics was one of the most entertaining – and intense – match-ups in the NBA.

There is reason to assume that there is still a match between these two teams. Philadelphia has built up its team around Embiid and Ben Simmons, who came in two assists of a triple-double on Tuesday. The Celtics counter with Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.

Then there is the question of a certain design of the NBA in June 2017, when the Celtics de Sixers had given the number 1 choice in exchange for the nr. 3 harvest and a coveted future first round harvest.

Philly took Markelle Fultz, who missed most of last season with shoulder problems. Boston took Jayson Tatum, the player who always wanted it, who would become one of the most sparkling rookies in his class. On Tuesday at TD Garden, he closed Embiid's 23 points, plus nine rebounds and three assists.

After the convincing victory of Boston at Philly, neither team was prepared to state that there was a border war in the Atlantic.

"This is not a rivalry," Embiid said. "JJ [Redick] Called me earlier that we are 2-10 against them. Maybe other people find that a rivalry, but not me. … We need to find a way to defeat them. They are even better this year and we have to match what they do before we can talk about rivalries. & # 39; & # 39;

Brown said he wanted to immerse himself on Embiid to make up for the blocked shot that the big man was up for in the game earlier when he tried to score in the transition. He said he and Embiid know each other, and there is respect, but a rivalry?

"I think it's too early," Brown said. "We come to play and do what we have to do, it's more of a rivalry between fans, between us, they're just another team."

It was pressed whether he really considers the Sixers, who are expected to compete with the supremacy of Boston for Eastern Conference, & # 39; just another team & # 39 ;, & # 39; Brown answered: & # 39; They have a lot of talent there, but they also have a lot of hype. There are a number of teams in the East that are good – maybe just as good or better than them.

"But I like the intensity and the hype when we play them, I'll give that to you."

The newly minted Sixers general manager, Elton Brand, said he would like to remind of the time of Boston versus Philly, but admitted that his team has a good way before it can end its end.

"I think we could hang our hat on Dr. J and that group or my group that brought Boston to Game 7, but we're not there yet," Brand said. "But it's getting exciting, you see the talent we have and the talent they have, and it's not far away."

Embiid complained about a lost chance on Tuesday and admitted to ESPN that his mind was somewhere else. On the same date four years ago, Embiid's little brother, Arturo, was beaten and killed by a car in his native Cameroon.

"It was heavy game on this day," said Embiid. "Concentration was a problem, it was difficult for me, but it's basketball."

Embiid insisted that it would have been a hard day, regardless of who played the Sixers.

Celtics-Sixers. Both teams claim that nothing is wrong.

"But I think we'll see," Brown said. "There are still a lot of games to play."