CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers will find out their second-round opponent Saturday evening, less than 48 hours before game one of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
It will be either the No. 2 Celtics or No. 7 Bucks. A Bucks win would mean the Sixers retain home court advantage and play Games 1 and 2 Monday and Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Center. A Celtics victory would start the series in Boston, with the first two games played Monday and Thursday at TD Garden.
“I feel like whoever we play is who we play,” Ben Simmons said. “We’ll be ready for that matchup.”
The Sixers’ focus is their own preparation, not doubling up on strategies based on potential competition. They won their first round series against the Heat 3-1 because they implemented their style of basketball and didn’t shift to play Miami’s game.
“To pretend you’re going to scout the Celtics and then scout the Bucks, that’s not going to happen,” Brett Brown said. “We try to choose things that are going to help us get better and deal with our opponent once we know it. We feel like we’ve done our due diligence to lay out a game plan, that’s not the issue. Just anointing a practice ‘This is for the Bucks’ or ‘This is for the Celtics,’ that’s not going to happen and we zoomed in on ourselves.”
That’s not to say the players don’t have their own predictions. The Celtics are heading back to Boston, where they were 27-14 at home this season. No team has won on the road in this series.
“I think that Boston tonight is going to win the game,” Marco Belinelli said. “That’s my opinion because I think they have a good team, they’re going to play a home game, they know how to play this type of game, they’ve got good experience on how to play this playoff game, Game 7. I think Milwaukee’s a great team. They really fight and it’s going to be really interesting to see which team is going to win tonight.”
Whoever the opponent is, the Sixers know the importance of homecourt advantage. They were nearly unstoppable in Philadelphia to close out the regular season and would have a major edge if the series started at the Wells Fargo Center.
“I think I will be more for Milwaukee because we have homecourt advantage against them,” Saric said. “But if you play against Boston, it’s like unbelievable franchise, unbelievable organization for so many years. It’s always nice to play in their gym in front of all their jerseys that hang up out there. It’s not something I want more or less. I think both of them are great opponents for us and I think we can beat both of them.”
Game 7 of Celtics vs. Bucks begins at 8 p.m. Saturday night.