Now that the Celtics and Sixers are underway, two old friends go up against each other.
No, not Paul Pierce and Tony Battie.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers and Sixers coach Doug Collins go way back to Collins' playing days with Rivers' uncle, Jim Brewer. Collins and Brewer were high school rivals, and drafted No. 1 and No. 2 in the 1973 NBA Draft. But the two coaches have another more recent connection, thanks to Austin Rivers' choosing of Duke University for his one and only NCAA season.
"My son recruited Austin," Collins said prior to Game 1 of the series. Chris Collins, Duke assistant coach was I think playing the big brother role for Austin at Duke. So our families are close. When Doc and his family decided that Austin was going to go there, I think he felt he was going to go to a place where he was going to get nurtured and continue to grow not only on but off the court.
"Doc reached out to Chris after the season was over and thanked him for what he did for Austin this year."
Rivers tried to make as many Duke games as he could, as the NBA season started late and some convenient off-days allowed for a quick flight to the game.
"He got to more games than I did this year," Collins said. "I didn't have that private plane from the Celtics."
It'll be all business for this series, but there's no doubting the friendship will remain either way.
"I have great respect for Doc," Collins said.