The Boston Celtics (21-21, 20-20-2 ATS) travel a couple of states over tonight to take on the Philadelphia 76ers (23-17, 20-20 ATS). The C’s are riding a three-game win streak right now, while the Sixers just had their seven-game win streak snapped by the Hornets on Wednesday night.
According to the online sports book Betonline.ag, the Boston Celtics are 3.5-point underdogs:
- Point Spread: Boston Celtics +3.5
- Over-Under: 207 points
- Money line: Boston Celtics +144, Philadelphia 76ers -164
Marcus Smart is the only player listed on Boston’s injury report. He just entered the league’s health and safety protocols.
The 76ers only have two players listed on their report (outside of Ben Simmons, who is still out for personal reasons). Both Shake Milton (back) and Danny Green (hip) are out for tonight’s contest.
G: Dennis Schroder
G: Jaylen Brown
F: Jayson Tatum
F: Al Horford
C: Robert Williams
G: Tyrese Maxey
G: Seth Curry
F: Matisse Thybulle
F: Tobias Harris
C: Joel Embiid
Boston Celtics Overview
This current three-game win streak is only Boston’s second streak of the season. The other came when they beat the Lakers, Thunder, and Rockets. Other than that, they have been unable to string together at least three wins in a row. That being said, they have shown flashes of turning things around, as of late, and a big part of that has been the play of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
The Jays combined to score 67 points in Boston’s throttling of the Paterson Wednesday. And in the game prior to that, they combined for 50. Their scoring has been leading the charge for the Celtics, which is what many people have been begging for. In addition, Dennis Schroder put in a nice shift as the starting point guard when Smart was hurt on Wednesday. He added 23 points of his own.
Boston’s offense coming around, combined with their stellar defense, has allowed them to find their groove a bit. The Jays have been allowing the game to come to them, instead of the other way around. That sort of shift in mentality is exactly what the Celtics need if they want to turn things around. Add in the great play of Robert Williams, and this team has the potential to begin a resurgence very soon.
Philadelphia 76ers Overview
As mentioned, the 76ers just had their seven-game win streak snapped by the Charlotte Hornets. The main reason behind that win streak is the continued dominance of Joel Embiid. Since their win streak started on December 26, Embiid is averaging 32.6 points, 9.6 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.0 steals, and 1.4 blocks while shooting 56.5 percent from the field and 40.9 percent from deep. That is dominance personified.
The Celtics felt that dominance first-hand earlier this season when Embiid dropped a 40-piece on their head. Boston had a grasp on that game only for Embiid to carry the Sixers back into it. Granted, the Celtics were forced to play Enes Freedom for over 40 minutes that night due to injuries, but the comeback was unacceptable regardless. Tonight will be a chance at revenge for the C’s.
While Embiid has led the way since December 26, Seth Curry has also been on fire. He’s averaging 15.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 6.7 assists over that span while shooting 47.7 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from deep. With how much Tobias Harris has been struggling, he’s acted as the team’s second option for large chunks of this season.
Obviously, the most important factor in this game will be how well the Celtics guard Embiid. He’s one of those players where, although it’s impossible to stop him, all the focus has to be on at least slowing him down. Having Al Horford and Williams back will certainly help, but regardless, Embiid will find a way to score. Boston just needs to constantly throw bodies at him to make him as uncomfortable as possible.
Past that, the C’s need to focus on themselves, with the main thing being maintaining their recent offensive surge. Obviously, having the Jays score 30 apiece helps, but they can’t depend on that every night. Boston needs to continue to move the ball effectively. That way, even if the Jays are off, they’re still getting good looks. When they work for their shots, they have players that can hit them. The only issues arise when they fall into the pit of isolation-heavy basketball.
Lastly, it’s all about rebounds tonight. Embiid cleans up the glass, as does Andre Drummond. The Celtics have struggled with closing out defensive possessions all year, and the Sixers would take full advantage of that. They have players who can dominate the glass, so the C’s can’t get caught ball-watching.
The 76ers are a better team than the Celtics are this season. The record shows it, the recent play shows it, and the consistency shows it. However, Boston kept the game super close last time out, and they were missing their entire big man rotation. This game could end up being deceivingly close, and maybe the C’s could even squeak out a win.
Boston Celtics 104, Philadelphia 76ers 99
TIP-OFF: 7:00 p.m. @ Gainbridge Fieldhouse
RADIO: 98.5 The Sports Hub
TV: NBC Sports Boston