With Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James in the Western Conference, the time was right for both the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers to pounce and claim the Eastern Conference as their own.
The 76ers have had the early advantage over their rival from Bean Town, as evidenced by Thursday's 109-98 win, notching a 3-0 series lead this season. It's a complete flip of the switch, and here are three ways Philadelphia accomplished that.
3. Acquiring Josh Richardson in Miami Sign-and-Trade
The 76ers faced quite the dilemma this summer. Jimmy Butler had no intent to remain in Philadelphia, so the 76ers front office decided to flip him to the Miami Heat in a sign-and-trade. That deal netted the Sixers Josh Richardson, and he's been a stud since joining his new squad. Averaging 15 points-per-game entering Thursday night, Richardson threw up 29 points, seven assists, and three rebounds against the Celtics. Philadelphia's savvy front office are why they're better than Boston currently.
When looking at the 76ers, they have a deeper roster than that of the Celtics. Names like Mike Scott, Matisse Thybulle, and Furkan Korkmaz are putting up points, and they aren't even starters. Meanwhile on Boston, there's no scoring behind Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum. This is why the 76ers have the 3-0 series advantage this season.
1. Stealing Al Horford
The biggest and smartest move for the 76ers was stealing Al Horford from under the noses of the Celtics. Horford, who declined to take Boston's $30 million player option, decided to sign with the 76ers on a four-year, $109 million contract. That move has haunted the Celtics ever since, and it showed on Thursday. Horford tallied 17 points, eight rebounds, six assists, and two blocks. He's a piece that the Celtics desperately miss, and it only burns them more by seeing him wear their heated rival's uniform.