The Sixers are 0-2 against Boston so far this season and will be looking to get a win in their first home game against the Eastern Conference-leading Celtics.
Celtics vs Sixers game info:
Who: Boston Celtics (43-17) at Philadelphia 76ers (39-19)
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pa.
When: 8:30 PM EST
Watch: ABC, ESPN 2
Celtics vs Sixers betting info
Spread: Celtics -1.5 | Sixers +1.5
Moneyline: Celtics -120 | Sixers +100
Total: Over/Under 226
Eye on the Sixers:
The Sixers started their post-All-Star, playoff push, with an improbable comeback win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday 100-105. Joel Embiid had as bad of a shooting game as we’ve seen from him, going 7-25 from the field for 27 points. What he did instead was put on a masterful defensive performance, grabbing 19 rebounds and also blocking 6 shots. He scored on an emphatic dunk at the end of the game after James Harden came up with a huge, scrambling rebound.
With Embiid shooting poorly, the Sixers looked to James Harden as he put in 31 points and added 7 assists and 7 rebounds. Harden was 10-16 from the floor, including 6-9 on three-pointers, on a night when the Sixers needed him most. Tobias Harris helped with 20 points including a three-pointer in the waning moments to give the Sixers their first lead at 106-105, since the first quarter of the game.
While Embiid won’t suffer many of those horrendous shooting nights, it was refreshing to see Harden, Harris, and Maxey all contribute. The Celtics are one of the better three-point shooting teams in the league and the Sixers are even better at defending the shots.
Jalen McDaniels should give the Sixers the added length and defense to pressure the Celtics. The team does need more from guard DeAnthony Melton and, as I’ve said multiple times, it looks like Melton would be better suited for the second unit, as Tyrese Maxey is an absolute beast when starting with Embiid and Harden. We shall see how the end of the year progresses with Head Coach Doc Rivers rotation.
Eye on the Celtics
The Celtics are coming to Philadelphia as the #1 team in the Eastern Conference as well as the whole league. They’re a “pick your poison” team that features Jason Tatum, Jalen Brown, Marcus Smart, and Malcolm Brogdon. Tatum has been playing on a whole different level this season and is close to the top on everyones MVP list. He is averaging 30.6 points per game to go along with 8.7 rebounds and 4.6 assists. Tatum is the leader of the best team in the league and there doesn’t seem to be a real weakness, at least this season, in his game.
Jalen Brown has been equally as impressive. On the season he’s averaging 26.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 3.2 assists. He’s just as important and deadly on the floor as Tatum, which provides for a problem for opposing teams. Forgotten with all of the hype around their two stars is Malcolm Brogdon, who’s quietly having a very good year for the Celtics off the bench.
The Celtics have been running through just about everyone through the season and don’t seem to be slowing down. Their combination of scoring, three-point shooting, and quality defense if keeping them at the top of the Eastern Conference and a favorite to win the NBA title.
What to expect:
The Celtics come into the game with an offensive rating of 117.2, which is good for third in the league. The Sixers will counter that with that eight best defensive rating in the league. What the Celtics do is shoot more three-pointers (2.2 per game) than anyone in the league except the Golden State Warriors. They’re shooting 37.9% on the season from long distance which is good for 6th in the league. The problem for the Celtics is that the Sixers happen to have the second-best three-point defense in the league, holding teams to 34.2% shooting from beyond the arc.
This game couldn’t be more evenly matched in terms of statistics and star power. While the Celtics shoot a lot of three-pointers, the Sixers make them at the 4th best rate in the league, currently 38.4%. The Celtics are only ranked 11th in three-point defense.
As bad as Embiid, offensively, was against the Grizzlies, Tatum was almost just as bad in his return from the break. While everyone rested the past week, those two were in the All-Star game, so it may just be a little hangover from the weekend. Either way, tonight’s game could be an Eastern Conference Finals preview if the teams continue to play as they have through the season.
Prediction: Celtics 115 – Sixers 108
Celtics vs Sixers betting offers
AP Photo/Matt Slocum