Which team actually relies more on youth, the Celtics or the 76ers?

The answer might surprise you, but it's not all that simple, either.

Jayson Tatum drives past Joel Embiid and accelerates toward the rim.
Jayson Tatum drives past Joel Embiid and accelerates toward the rim. –John Tlumacki / The Boston Globe

Much has been made about how the up-and-coming 76ers have used their youth to rise to the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference.

As they’ve done so, however, so have the Celtics.

With Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward sidelined, coach Brad Stevens has counted on Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Terry Rozier to produce this postseason. Heck, Stevens even started rookie Semi Ojeleye – and stuck him on superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo – and it worked.

It’s possible this series could be the first of many playoff meetings between these teams over the next decade, as both blossom into legitimate contenders. The natural tendency is to think that the 76ers are younger, because of their slogan “Trust the Process” and the prowess of Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and Dario Saric.


However, closer research shows that’s not the case. In fact, the Celtics are the slightly younger team, when it comes to average age and years of experience. Here’s a breakdown:

The entire Celtics roster:

Aron Baynes, 31, 6 years

Jaylen Brown, 21, 2 years

Gordon Hayward, 28, 8 years

Al Horford, 31, 11 years

Kyrie Irving, 26, 7 years

Shane Larkin, 25, 4 years

Greg Monroe, 27, 8 years

Marcus Morris, 28, 7 years

Abdel Nader, 24, 1 year

Semi Ojeleye, 23, 1 year

Terry Rozier, 24, 3 years

Marcus Smart, 24, 4 years

Jayson Tatum, 20, 1 year

Daniel Theis, 26, 1 year

Guerschon Yabusele, 22, 1 year

Average age: 25.33

Average years of NBA experience: 4.33

The entire 76ers roster:

Justin Anderson, 24, 3 years

Jerryd Bayless, 29, 10 years

Marco Belinelli, 32, 11 years

Robert Covington, 27, 5 years

Joel Embiid, 24, 2 years

Markelle Fultz, 19, 1 year

Richaun Holmes, 24, 3 years

Ersan Ilyasova, 30, 10 years

Amir Johnson, 30, 13 years

Furkan Korkmaz, 20, 1 year

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, 22, 2 years

T.J. McConnell, 26, 3 years

JJ Redick, 33, 12 years

Dario Saric, 24, 2 years

Ben Simmons, 21, 1 year

Average age: 25.67

Average years of NBA experience: 5.27

Simmons, Embiid, and Saric might be young, but JJ Redick, Marco Belinelli, and Ersan Ilyasova have been around for a while. Former Celtic Amir Johnson, who sees minutes for the 76ers, is getting up there as well.

The Celtics, meanwhile, are quite young outside of Horford, Morris, and Baynes. The majority of their contributors are under 25, including four of their Game 7 starters against the Bucks.


But wait a minute…Irving and Hayward aren’t on the roster. Here’s a closer look at those same stats focusing on key players – as the influx of youth shifts even more in the Celtics’ direction.

Players who saw action in first round, series-clinching games:


Average age: 24.8

Years of experience: 3.7 


Average age: 27.1

Years of experience: 6.2

Starting lineups in first round, series-clinching games:


Age: 23.8

Years of experience: 3.6


Age: 25.8

Years of experience: 4.4

Even when you get to the key players, the trend is still the same. Tatum, Brown, Rozier, and Ojeleye are all making a name for themselves these playoffs.

But wait a minute…Embiid missed the first two games of the series against the Heat. Here’s a look at how the 76ers young stars have responded with him in the lineup (all wins).

Key 76ers under 25 years old in three games with Embiid healthy:

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Points: Embiid 18.7, Simmons: 16.7, Saric 13.3=48.7

Rebounds: Simmons 11.7, Embiid 10.3, Saric 6.7=28.7

Assists: Simmons 7.7, Saric 3.7, Embiid 2.0=13.4

Team in three full games with Embiid:

Points: 112.7

Rebounds: 50.3

Assists: 25.7

Percent accounted for by those three players:

Points: 43.2 percent

Rebounds: 57.1 percent

Assists: 52.1 percent

Total: 48.1 percent

Philadelphia’s offense runs through Simmons and Embiid, and Saric is there as a viable option alongside sharpshooters Redick and Belinelli. While Simmons’ scoring and assist numbers are impressive, his rebounding numbers are what stand out from the first round.

The Celtics will have their hands full trying to limit his production, but those stats could go down if the Celtics put a big body like Horford or Ojeleye on him. Embiid, meanwhile, is still unlocking his potential, and his scoring numbers could easily increase this series.

Key Celtics under 25 years old in six games with Brown healthy:

Points: Brown 20.6, Rozier 16.2, Tatum 14.6=51.4

Rebounds: Brown 5.3, Tatum 5.2, Rozier 4.0=14.5

Assists: Rozier 6.3, Tatum 2.8, Brown 1.5=10.6

Rozier’s growth was a major reason the Celtics crept past the Bucks in the first round. With Irving sidelined, a lot of the onus has fallen on his shoulders, and he hasn’t disappointed. The shifty guard has the ball in his hands a great deal, which has led to a significant spike in assists from his season average of 2.9.


His production is yet another reason why the Celtics rely heavily on their youth, and much more than they thought they would to start the year.

Team in six full games with Brown:

Points: 100.9

Rebounds: 43.3

Assists: 20.5

Percent accounted for by those three players:

Points: 50.9 percent

Rebounds: 33.5 percent

Assists: 51.7 percent

Total: 46.7 percent

This ends up extremely close, but the 76ers trio has the slight edge when it comes to overall production. Horford is a main reason why. As a stat-stuffer and versatile playmaker, he consistently produces for the Celtics. Redick does the same for the Sixers, but mostly as a scorer and not as much as a distributor or rebounder.

The numbers vary based on the specifics, but one thing is clear: Both teams are incredibly young, and the series should provide a glimpse into the landscape of the NBA in the coming years.