BOSTON — The Boston Celtics have played the Philadelphia 76ers in the playoffs twice in this century, but you have to go back to the early- to mid-1980s for the last time they met when both teams were actually good.

Prior to that were the five straight years in the 1960s when the winner of the Celtics-76ers series eventually became the NBA champion. The Celtics won four of the five, with Wilt Chamberlain’s crew breaking through in ’67.

Is it possible, with luck, development and good health, that we could be a year or three away from Boston and Philly again competing for Eastern – and maybe NBA – supremacy?

The Celtics have boasted the best record in the league for most of this young season, with rookies and a second-year player in key roles. The Sixers have taken a giant step forward with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, and if Embiid holds together – he’s still not playing in back-to-back games – they could become a legitimate terror.

With the New York Knicks still stuck in the Manhattan mud, a close-proximity postseason rivalry between the Celts and 76ers would be fun.

Brett Brown, the Philadelphia coach and a South Portland native, certainly would be up for it.

“That would be great selfishly because it still has a strong imprint on my basketball history,” Brown said. “You remember it like it was yesterday.

“And the rivalry between the two cities and the two teams, now that I’ve lived in Philadelphia and spent so much time in Boston, they’re very similar cities really. There’s a blue-collar toughness they demand and it spills over into the personalities of their teams. It’s how I’m trying to grow our team in Philadelphia, to mirror the city’s spirit.

“To be able to reclaim that, what I remember, would be just fantastic for this part of the country basketball-wise. I think having these two cities fighting it out again would be great for the sport, too.”

At 56, Brown may be a little shaky on the Russell-Wilt wars, but he was front and center in the ’80s.

“I go back to back to the days when the Celtics were going up against Andrew Toney, those days,” he said. “I couldn’t believe Toney’s rocker step, how lethal he was playing out of a triple-threat series. And then you start getting into the obvious stuff with (Julius Erving) and (George) McGinnis and Bobby Jones, and all that.

“Back in those days where you, just as a kid – and I’m the son of a coach – you’d drive down (Interstate) 95 and you just can’t wait to get out of your car and get here early. And the guy would hit me in the head with peanuts out front. You’d go up and buy a bag of peanuts, and he’d throw them to you and slam you in the head. Then you’d make your way down to the court.”

On a roll, Brown added, “I remember bringing a Polaroid camera with me to get down on the court and take pictures of the Celtics and the Sixers. So my experiences go way back, and I just think it would be wonderful for the sport if we could have that again.”

Earlier this year, Brown spoke of his larger fixation with the Celtics, born of both his youth and the fact he hopes his current team can measure up.

“I can’t tell you how much I pay attention to them,” he said of the Celts. “I mean, I grew up two hours down the road in Portland. My history watching this organization is deep, and from afar I’m always paying attention to the Celtics.

“And I’ve got tremendous respect for what Danny (Ainge) and Brad (Stevens) are doing, and when you step back and see the different bold trades that were made – you know, our dealing with them with Markelle (Fultz) – you’re always paying attention to the Celtics.

“And I say that out of respect, and I say that out of the history that personally I have growing up in New England.”