Rare Event Set To Take Place in Boston, Philly

BOSTON – The cities of Boston and Philadelphia are about to watch a very rare event take place this weekend. The Celtics and 76ers will play each other on consecutive nights in separate cities.

The fun will tip off at 7 p.m. Friday night in Philadelphia when the Celtics head to the Wells Fargo Center. When that game is completed, the teams will head to separate airplanes and fly to the same destination, Boston, for their 7:30 p.m. tilt Saturday night in TD Garden.

Brandon Bass

Brandon Bass and the Celtics will play the Sixers on consecutive days this weekend.
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty Images

NBA fans know that back-to-backs are relatively rare occasions in this league, with each team typically facing about 15-20 of them per season. Playing a single opponent on both nights of a back-to-back, however, is the rarest of rare occasions on NBA schedules.

How rare is it? In Boston’s case, it has happened only twice in the Kevin Garnett Era. The Celtics played Washington in a similar set on Jan. 1 and Jan. 2 of last season, and they played the Toronto Raptors on Jan. 11 and Jan. 12 of the 2008-09 season. That’s it. You won’t find another occurrence since Garnett began donning green and white.

As unusual as these sets might be, Doc Rivers is a fan of them. He sees this as a challenge and compares it to the type of situations Boston plans to be a part of in April, May and June.

“I think it makes games very competitive, even the first one, because the team knows you’re going to see them tomorrow, too,” Rivers said Wednesday night. “I’ve always liked those. It’s like a mini playoff in the middle of the season. I’ve always liked those things.”

These situations are great challenges for players and coaches alike, yet Rivers still loves the thought of them. That’s probably because his subconscious remembers positive results from the past.

Boston has played in two of these sets over the past five-plus seasons and it has gone undefeated in all four games. In regular home-and-homes that haven’t taken place on consecutive nights, the C’s own a 9-3 record over the same time span. They have swept four of the six two-game series’.

Gaining similar results this time around could prove to be very difficult. Philadelphia has the same record as Boston through 18 games and as Rivers said Wednesday night, the Sixers have been very successful against the C’s over the past couple of seasons.

“They’re playing well against us, and we’re going to have to deal with that,” Rivers said of Philly, which has already beaten the Celtics twice during the preseason and once in the regular season. “They must have great confidence against us, so those are going to be hard games.”

The Sixers won’t be the only team boasting confidence Friday and Saturday night. Boston has won four of its past six games and is playing very strong basketball. Rajon Rondo is back from his suspension and the team’s summer additions are beginning to settle in.

Rivers can see his team coming around. He has said that for the past couple of weeks. He likes where the team is at, and he couldn’t think of a better challenge for his guys than the one they face this weekend.

“Coming into it I think we’re starting to play a little bit better,” Rivers said. “We’ve struggled playing in Philly, so I love all of the bad stuff. That’s good, the way I look at it in my demented way. I think those are all good things. I think it’s a good challenge for us, so it will be a lot of fun.”

These rare sets have been a lot of fun for Boston over the past five seasons. The fun will continue this weekend if the C’s continue their strong stretch of play.