76ers vs Celtics: Head to Head History

76ers vs Celtics: Head to Head History

If the Boston Celtics rivalry against the Los Angeles Lakers is the most storied in NBA history, the Celtics rivalry against the Philadelphia 76ers likely takes second place — and might even earn the top spot, due to sheer volume. Unfortunately for the Philadelphia faithful, the 76ers have long been considered the “younger brother” in this rivalry, so to speak; only because they have lost a majority of their games against the Celtics, and have 14 less NBA Championships than Boston. Still, that doesn’t do away with any of this rivalry’s vitriol — especially in recent seasons, where these teams are usually evenly matched, and have produced many exciting games. While the past has favored Boston, perhaps the future of this rivalry will have the Philadelphia 76ers written all over it.

In this article, we’ll discuss the head to head history between the 76ers and the Celtics, talk about the background to their rivalry, break down their 2023 Eastern Conference Semifinals series, and predict how these teams will match up in 2023-24.

76ers vs Celtics Head to Head History

The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers have played each other a whopping 579 times — with Boston owning the all-time series, 333-246. However, Boston’s margin is smaller in the postseason, with them winning the series 66-50 (the 116 playoff games these teams have played is the most all time between two franchises.)

The first meeting between the Celtics and 76ers came on November 30, 1949, when the Celtics beat the Nationals (the 76ers’ former name) by a score of 87-71. The most recent matchup between these historic franchises was on May 14, 2023, when the Celtics beat the 76ers 112-88.

The longest win streak in this rivalry came when Boston won 20 straight games against the 76ers, which occurred from December 28, 1971, to March 16, 1974.

Philadelphia 76ers vs Boston Celtics Game Log

Here’s the complete regular season game log between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics, from the 2023-24 Season to the 2013-14 Season:

GameDateHome TeamAway TeamResultScoreStreakHead-to-Head PHI-BOS
465Nov 15, 2023Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsL107 – 117Celtics won 1197 – 268
464Nov 08, 2023Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsW106 – 10376ers won 2197 – 267
463Apr 4, 2023Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsW103 – 10176ers won 1196 – 267
462Feb 25, 2023Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsL107 – 110Celtics won 4195 – 267
461Feb 8, 2023Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsL99 – 106Celtics won 3195 – 266
460Oct 18, 2022Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsL117 – 126Celtics won 2195 – 265
459Feb 15, 2022Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsL87 – 135Celtics won 1195 – 264
458Jan 14, 2022Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsW111 – 9976ers won 2195 – 263
457Dec 20, 2021Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsW108 – 10376ers won 1194 – 263
456Dec 1, 2021Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsL87 – 88Celtics won 1193 – 263
455Apr 6, 2021Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsW106 – 9676ers won 3193 – 262
454Jan 22, 2021Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsW122 – 11076ers won 2192 – 262
453Jan 20, 2021Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsW117 – 10976ers won 1191 – 262
452Feb 1, 2020Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsL95 – 116Celtics won 1190 – 262
451Jan 9, 2020Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsW109 – 9876ers won 4190 – 261
450Dec 12, 2019Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsW115 – 10976ers won 3189 – 261
449Oct 23, 2019Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsW107 – 9376ers won 2188 – 261
448Mar 20, 2019Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsW118 – 11576ers won 1187 – 261
447Feb 12, 2019Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsL109 – 112Celtics won 3186 – 261
446Dec 25, 2018Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsL114 – 121Celtics won 2186 – 260
445Oct 16, 2018Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsL87 – 105Celtics won 1186 – 259
444Jan 18, 2018Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsW89 – 8076ers won 1186 – 258
443Jan 11, 2018Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsL103 – 114Celtics won 3185 – 258
442Nov 30, 2017Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsL97 – 108Celtics won 2185 – 257
441Oct 20, 2017Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsL92 – 102Celtics won 1185 – 256
440Mar 19, 2017Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsW105 – 9976ers won 1185 – 255
439Feb 15, 2017Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsL108 – 116Celtics won 11184 – 255
438Jan 6, 2017Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsL106 – 110Celtics won 10184 – 254
437Dec 3, 2016Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsL106 – 107Celtics won 9184 – 253
436Mar 20, 2016Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsL105 – 120Celtics won 8184 – 252
435Jan 24, 2016Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsL92 – 112Celtics won 7184 – 251
434Nov 25, 2015Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsL80 – 84Celtics won 6184 – 250
433Oct 28, 2015Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsL95 – 112Celtics won 5184 – 249
432Mar 16, 2015Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsL89 – 108Celtics won 4184 – 248
431Feb 6, 2015Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsL96 – 107Celtics won 3184 – 247
430Dec 15, 2014Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsL87 – 105Celtics won 2184 – 246
429Nov 19, 2014Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsL90 – 101Celtics won 1184 – 245
428Apr 14, 2014Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsW113 – 10876ers won 2184 – 244
427Apr 4, 2014Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsW111 – 10276ers won 1183 – 244
426Feb 5, 2014Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsL108 – 114Celtics won 1182 – 244
425Jan 29, 2014Philadelphia 76ersBoston CelticsW95 – 9476ers won 1182 – 243

76ers vs Celtics Historical Game Log Analysis

Analyzing the historical game log between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics, we can derive several key insights about this NBA matchup:

  1. Dominance Shifts: Over the years, there have been shifts in dominance between the two teams. While the Boston Celtics have a better overall head-to-head record, the Philadelphia 76ers have had periods of consistent wins, particularly noticeable in the early 2000s and recent years.
  2. Close Contests and Streaks: Many of the games between these two teams have been closely contested, often with narrow margins of victory. This points to a strong rivalry and a well-matched contest. Additionally, both teams have had streaks of consecutive wins over the other, indicating periods of dominance.
  3. Impact of Home Court Advantage: The game log shows that both teams have had significant home court advantages at different times. Winning streaks are often more pronounced when teams play at their home venue.
  4. Evolution of Team Dynamics: The fluctuating fortunes of the teams over the years reflect changes in team rosters, management, and overall team dynamics. Key player trades, injuries, and strategic changes have played a role in the outcomes of these games.
  5. Significant Games and Turnarounds: Certain games have been turning points, either breaking long losing streaks or starting new winning streaks. These games often coincide with significant events such as debut of key players, coaching changes, or playoff implications.
  6. Playoff Implications: Games played closer to the playoffs often have higher stakes and intensity, which is reflected in the close scores and the heightened competitiveness of the games.
  7. Consistency of the Celtics: The Boston Celtics have shown a higher level of consistency over the years, as evidenced by their lead in the overall head-to-head record. This could be attributed to their historically strong player recruitment and development programs.
  8. Rising Competitiveness of the 76ers: In recent seasons, the 76ers have become increasingly competitive against the Celtics, indicating a resurgence possibly driven by new talent and strategic changes.

This historical game log not only provides insights into the sports rivalry and competitiveness between the two teams but also reflects broader trends in the NBA regarding team development, strategy, and the impact of individual players and coaches.

76ers vs Celtics Rivalry Background

As I previously stated, the Celtics and 76ers have faced each other in the playoffs more than any other teams in history (23 total series, to be exact.) Nothing I can say will better depict the nature of this rivalry than listing these playoff series (which date back to 1953), so I will instead simply list each playoff series they’ve played in, and note the winner of each one in quotations.

1953 Eastern Division Semifinals (Boston), 1954 Eastern Division Semifinals (Philadelphia), 1955 Eastern Division Finals (Philadelphia), 1956 Eastern Division Semifinals (Philadelphia), 1957 Eastern Division Finals (Boston), 1959 Eastern Division Finals (Boston), 1961 Eastern Division Finals (Boston), 1965 Eastern Division Finals (Boston), 1966 Eastern Division Finals (Boston), 1967 Eastern Division Finals (Philadelphia), 1968 Eastern Division Finals (Boston), 1969 Eastern Division Semifinals (Boston), 1977 Eastern Conference Semifinals (Philadelphia), 1980 Eastern Conference Finals (Philadelphia), 1981 Eastern Conference Finals (Philadelphia), 1982 Eastern Conference Finals (Philadelphia), 1985 Eastern Conference Finals (Boston), 2002 Eastern Conference First Round (Boston), 2012 Eastern Conference Semifinals (Boston), 2018 Eastern Conference Semifinals (Boston), 2020 Eastern Conference First Round (Boston), 2023 Eastern Conference Semifinals (Boston).

It is worth nothing that the Celtics have won the past 6 playoff series between these two teams — the most recent of which was the closest, and also the most exciting.

76ers vs Celtics 2023 Eastern Conference Semifinals

After the Boston Celtics finished the 2022-23 regular season with a 57-25 record, they entered the 2023 NBA Playoffs as the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference. They beat the Atlanta Hawks in the first round, before being matched up against the Philadelphia 76ers in the Conference Semifinals.

The Philadelphia 76ers finished the 2023-23 regular season with a 54-28 record, which earned them the #3 seed in the Eastern Conference (1 game and 1 seed below Boston). They swept the Brooklyn Nets in the first round, earning them a date against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Game 1 of this series took place in Boston. In a game that saw 14 lead changes and 14 ties, 76ers’ James Harden went absolutely ballistic from the field, scoring 45 points to stun the Celtics at home and win Game 1 for the 76ers, 119-115.

Despite the 76ers’ star center Joel Embiid returning from a minor injury which caused him to miss Game 1, Game 2 was all Boston from start to finish. Led by 25 points from Jaylen Brown and 23 from Malcolm Brogdon, the Celtics demolished the 76ers 121-87, and evened the series 1-1.

Game 3 was in Philadelphia. All 5 of the Celtics starters scored double digit points in this game, along with Malcolm Brogdon adding 15 off the bench. Even though Joel Embiid was dominant in the paint, scoring 30 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, his effort wasn’t enough to keep from Boston from winning Game 3, 114-102.

Game 4 was the best in the entire series. With the two teams tied 107-107 at the end of regulation, this game went into overtime. During overtime, James Harden took over, and put the 76ers on his back on route to a nail-biting, 116-115 victory.

Game 5 of the series went back to Boston, with the two teams tied 2-2. This time, Joel Embiid took over. His 33 points (combined with an unexpected 30 points from Tyrese Maxey) allowed the 76ers to jump out to an early lead that they never surrendered, and beat Boston on their home court, 115-103.

Back to Philadelphia Game 6 went. With both teams playing top-tier defense, Jayson Tatum’s impressive three-point shooting in the fourth quarter proved to be the difference, as the Celtics responded by winning Game 6 95-86, which set up a winner-take-all Game 7.

While many were expecting the final game of this series to be the most exciting, that wasn’t the case. The Philadelphia 76ers simply didn’t look like themselves, and 51 points from Jayson Tatum made it so the Boston Celtics won the game 112-88, moving on to the eastern Conference Finals while the 76ers’ season ended.

76ers vs Celtics 2023-24 Matchup Analysis

The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers play each other four times in the 2023-24 NBA regular season: on November 8 (in Philadelphia), on November 15 (in Philadelphia), on December 1 (in Boston), and on February 27 (in Boston).

Both in the past and more recently, the Boston Celtics have owned this series. And now that James Harden is no longer on the 76ers, and the Celtics added Kristaps Porzingis in the offseason, the Celtics appear to be a better team than the 76ers this season — at least on paper. Yet, the 76ers still have Joel Embiid, who can dominate any game and carry Philadelphia on his back for an entire playoff series if he needs to. So if these teams potentially face off in the playoffs once again, it wouldn’t be wise to count out the 76ers. Perhaps the future of this rivalry really is in Philadelphia’s favor.

James Idayi
Posted in NBA