In his Wednesday PER Diem column, ESPN.com's John Hollinger breaks down just how close the Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers really is. A sample:
The Philadelphia-Boston series may not be an aesthetic wonder, but thus far it couldn't possibly be any more competitive. Two hard-fought, one-point games -- one won by each side -- leave us no closer to having a victor than we were four days ago.
The odds still slightly favor Boston -- teams with home-court advantage have advanced 60 percent of the time after splitting the first two games, and even more often when the split happens with a Game 2 loss rather than a Game 1 loss.
Nonetheless, this one appears to have seven-game series written all over it. And it appears Game 1 -- a 92-91 Boston win -- may be the highest-scoring game. As I noted when previewing the series, Boston and Philadelphia were two of the league's top three defensive teams in the regular season, but both finished below the league average in offensive efficiency. Even during Boston's late-season surge, the Celtics weren't doing much of note on offense; they were just playing ridiculously well on defense.
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