NBA All-Time Bracket: East Semi Finals

If you could select any player from any era to construct a starting five for each NBA franchise, which team would win it all?

Downtown’s Tommy Greer, Liam Santamaria and Roy Ward snake-drafted 16 NBA franchises, divided them into two brackets (East and West) and randomly assigned their Conference seedings.   Five starters were chosen along with one extra (either a Coach or a 6th Man).

Throughout August we have been debating which franchise can construct the greatest starting five (plus one) of all time  and you, the readers, have been determining the winning franchise from each match-up by casting your vote in the comment section at the bottom of the page, on Twitter or on Facebook with the victors progressing to the next round.

Boston, Detroit, Philadelphia and Chicago all advanced to the second round in the East, while the Lakers, Jazz, Spurs and Rockets survived the opening round of action in the Wild, Wild West.

Today we conduct the Eastern Conference Semi Finals with Boston vs Detroit and Philadelphia vs Chicago.

You be the judge.

Detroit Pistons (Santamaria)

PG – Isiah Thomas (1984-85)

SG – Joe Dumars (1990-91)

SF – Grant Hill (1996-97)

PF – Dave DeBusschere (1967-68)

C – Bob Lanier (1976-77)

6th Man – Bill Laimbeer (1986-87)

Vs Boston: I like the Pistons’ chances of winning the backcourt dual here with 13-time All-Star and 6-time Champion Bob Cousy sitting in the bleachers.  Make no mistake, ’97 Grant Hill was a beast; First Team All-NBA and averages of 20, 9 and 7 from the SF spot.  Nonetheless, ’85 Bird will be a handful.  Of course, if The Legend starts to get going I’ll insert Laimbeer for some of the “bank, bang stuff” (as Johnny Most so eloquently termed it).

The DeBusschere/KG battle will likely be a wash but, unfortunately, Russell will outplay Lanier in the middle.  The question is, will Bird and Russell have enough to overcome the backcourt dominance of Thomas and Dumars and get this Celtics team over the line against this dogged Pistons defensive unit? We know one thing for sure, Bird couldn’t do it in ’89.


Boston Celtics (Ward)

PG – Rajon Rondo (2011/12)

SG – Paul Pierce (2007/08)

SF – Larry Bird (1984/85)

PF – Kevin Garnett (2007/08)

C – Bill Russell (take your pick)

6th Man – Tommy HeinsohnVs Detroit: Firstly if Bill Laimbeer hits the court, Bill Russell and Kevin Garnett will beat him to a pulp before he can get near Larry Bird. The paint is the area where the Celtics should win this contest. Simply put, Russell and Garnett should dominate the paint against DeBusshere and Lanier. With the Celtics bigs in control, the scoring will be left to Bird and Pierce who should work a nice two-man game to get the better of Dumars and Hill. Rondo’s defensive speed should limit Isiah Thomas, who has a history of taking down the Celtics but won’t do it this time. Celtics should score this win.


Philadelphia 76ers (Santamaria)

PG – Allen Iverson (2000-01)

SG – Julius Erving (1980-81)

SF – Charles Barkley (1987-88)

PF – Moses Malone (1982-83)

C – Wilt Chamberlain (1966-67)

6th Man – Dolph Schayes (1954-55)

 Vs Chicago: This Philly line-up is legitimately good so strap yourselves in folks - this is going to be one heck of a series.  Despite the wealth of offensive firepower on both of these squads, my eyes are initially drawn towards the rebounding battle between Moses and The Worm.  Each led the league in boards in their selected seasons and watching two of the greatest rebounders in hoops history jostle for position will be an absolute treat.

Iverson and Rose both come in as MVP point guards and that too will be a fun matchup to watch.  Having said that, surely The Answer’s league-leading 31 points per game gives him the edge?

MJ will obviously be an issue but, on the flip side, so will Wilt.  In fact, The Big Dipper is going to chew the A-Train up and spit him out all over the courtside seats.  Expect 45 and 25 from Chamberlain… will that be enough against the GOAT?

Chicago Bulls (Santamaria)

PG – Derrick Rose (2010/11)

SG – Michael Jordan (1990-91)

SF – Scottie Pippen (1993-94)

PF – Dennis Rodman (1996-97)

C – Artis Gilmore (1980-81)

6th Man – Chet Walker (1971-72)

Vs Philadelphia: You’d have to think the Iverson/Rose, Barkley/Pippen and Malone/Rodman matchups would each be played to something close to a draw in this series.  That leaves Philly’s ability to contain Jordan and the Bulls’ ability to limit Wilt as the deciding elements.  Clearly Chamberlain is gonna to get his numbers, but as dominant as he was individually, Wilt only ever won two championships over a 15-year career (in ’67 as Sixer and ’72 as a Laker).  MJ won 6 and he was the Finals MVP for every single one of them.  To this day, there has never been another player in the history of the game that is/was more clutch than His Airness and that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is why these Bulls will win Game 7 of this epic All-Time Series.  MJ, in his absolute prime, simply will not let them lose it.


Who wins these Celtics vs Pistons and 76ers vs Bulls second-round match-ups?  Cast your votes in the comment section below, on Twitter (@downtownball) or on Facebook and stay tuned for the Western Conference Semi Finals up next.

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5 Responses

  1. Alex at |

    Boston, Bulls
    Bird, Jordan
    All 4 teams are full of good players, 2 are full of good players who are also great winners!

  2. Tom at |

    I gotta go with the front line in both match ups. Celtics too good for the Pistons there despite the back court strength in Motown.

    In the other semi-final, it’s really tough to go against MJ, but I think Dr J can at least stay with him athletically on defense to contest his shot, and that Sixers front court will be way too much to handle for that Bulls squad.

    Celtics and Sixers get my votes.

  3. Aimon at |

    Celtics over Pistons
    Bulls over 76ers

  4. Scott Copeland at |

    Well this stage of the finals features a number of teams i just love to hate.
    I was about to start typing Bulls over Philly, due to the MJ factor, but when i go back and look at the sixers, they have a massive win at he centre spot and Dr J is as close as anyone is going to get to Jordan in terms of talent who is not named the Black Mamba. The Answer shades Rose and quite frankly the 76ers are just deeper overall. In retrospect, its good to vote the Bulls out legitimately.

    Its Boston over Deeeeetroit baaaaasketbaaaall and unfortunately its not that close. Celtics are better at every position except at PG where Isiah Thomas has it over Rondo.

  5. Tony at |

    Celtics defeat Pistons
    Bulls defeat 76ers

Please comment with your real name using good manners.

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