Joel Embiid
Joel Embiid was asked whether he thought the Celtics were a rival (Matt Slocum/Associated Press)

The NBA is back. Notice how I didn’t use the exclamation mark because playoff baseball is still better but that’s not what I’m going to discuss. The Celtics are coming into this season as the team of destiny ready to win the 2019 NBA title. They hosted the Philadelphia 76ers in the season opener and dusted them like a G-League team. Boston won 105-87 on opening day.

76ers center Joel Embiid was asked whether he considers the Celtics a rival. He did not hold back.

“This is not a rivalry. I don’t know our record against them, but it’s pretty bad. They always kick our ass.”

He’s not wrong. Philly got waxed in the playoffs by the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semis a year ago. They didn’t just lose to the Celtics in five games. They lost to the Celtics without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. Guess what. Those guys are back now. As the season goes along, Irving and Hayward will only continue to get better as they recover from their injuries.

Boston has a starting five that could all realistically make the Eastern Conference All-Star game. The 76ers are dying for a third star. It’s Embiid, Simmons, and a whole lot of nothing. The upcoming free agent class doesn’t look as promising as you may think either so it’s not easy to find that third guy.

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Embiid had a good opening night on the stat line. He scored 23 points to go along with 10 rebounds and 2 assists. The real storyline was Markelle Fultz, the former number one overall pick in 2017, and he couldn’t have looked worse. Fultz went 2-7 shooting scoring 5 points and his awful form doesn’t look fixed. Maybe Embiid won’t call this a rivalry because he knows that Danny Ainge swindled the 76ers front office landing the better prospect, Jayson Tatum. The guy who could have been the third star to carry Philly moving forward.