West scout prefers Sixers to Celtics as possible East beasts

Joel Embiid and the 76ers have renewed their intense Eastern Conference rivalry with the Celtics.

The Boston Celtics were expected to come close to dominating the Eastern Conference, or at least resemble the team that came within a game of reaching the Finals last season.

And they did most of it without point guard Kyrie Irving and all of it without Gordon Hayward.

Now, the Celtics (24-15) have been far from bad. They just haven’t lived up to the buzz, and we’re at the season’s midway point. Will they every become the team everyone thought they were?

Some say no.

“I’m off the Celtics,” a Western Conference scout told Marc Stein of the New York Times. “It’s almost like they have too much talent. Something has gone awry there. It’s too much my-turn basketball whenever I see them. The ball doesn’t move the same way it used to. And I just don’t know if Kyrie Irving is the kind of guy who can get everybody on the same page.”

Stein went on to quote the scout as saying, when it comes to the East, he much prefers the chances of the Philadelphia 76ers.

“Philadelphia is my team in the East,” the scout said. “I know people say they don’t have enough shooting and they don’t have enough depth, but they have more tools than you think.

Jimmy Butler has made them better. Joel Embiid is a monster. Ben Simmons: Talk about his shot all you want, but he’s a monster. J.J. Redick’s shooting might be the glue to the whole thing. And even T.J. McConnell — people say he can’t score and he’s short and he’s slow. But he makes every pull-up jumper. He gets into the paint. He steals inbounds passes. He takes charges.

“The Sixers are physical. They will give you a problem physically. I’m telling you: Anybody who gets Philly in the first round of the playoffs is going to be unhappy about it.”

Stein interviewed many more scouts on a variety of NBA topics. You can sign up for the newsletter here.