Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers Game 3: Prediction, Starting Lineups, Odds (5/5/23)

The Boston Celtics (1-1) go on the road to face the Philadelphia 76ers (1-1) in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Joel Embiid fought through his knee sprain and played 26 minutes in Game 2, and he’s expected to suit up again tonight. Can Boston wrench back home court-advantage tonight?

Check out below for Celtics vs. 76ers predictions, odds, trends, and starting lineups.

Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers Prediction

Prediction: Celtics -2.5

Although Joel Embiid returned, his agility and conditioning definitely appeared diminished. He struggled to gain any traction on offense due to rust and perhaps a lack of confidence in his knee to hold up when attacking the basket. Boston was able to get out in transition far more frequently and exploit Embiid’s injury. Until Embiid proves it on the court, it would be unwise to assume he’s back to his old self, which is a massive blow to the 76ers on both ends of the court.

The Celtics are dominating the three-point battle. Boston has racked up 71 open and wide open 3PA this series – an astonishing 42.5% of their total FGA. It’s not surprising either as the 76ers rank 25th defending the three-point line in terms of opponent shot quality (per ShotQuality). In contrast, Philadelphia sits at 49 open and wide open 3PA, which is 29.1% of their total FGA. That’s also understandable considering the Celtics rank 2nd defending the three-point line in terms of opponent shot quality (per ShotQuality).

Meanwhile, the Celtics are flexing their depth this series as Malcolm Brogdon, Grant Williams, and Robert Williams could easily all be starters. Boston owns a monstrous 13.9 bench Net Rating across the first two games, which allows plenty of leeway for the starting five. It also grants them greater lineup flexibility, and adaptability wins series.

Finally, Boston can defend Philadelphia’s stars better than the reverse. Al Horford and Robert Williams are desirable Embiid defenders that can contest his shots and keep him off the glass. Marcus Smart neutralizes Harden’s typical strength advantage, while Derrick White excels as an off-ball defender versus Tyrese Maxey. Plus, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown can handle any 76er outside of Embiid. However, who is guarding Tatum, Brown, and their three-point shooters? PJ Tucker is an excellent defender, but he’s only defending one player at a time.

Overall, Boston has significant three-point, bench, and star-defender advantages this series. Add in Embiid’s injury, and the Celtics should come out on top if they play to their potential. That’s not always guaranteed with this squad, but I expect them to maintain their massive Game 2 momentum and take care of business in Game 3.

Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers Betting Odds

Despite being on the road, Boston is a 2.5-point favorite with a playable -135 moneyline. For Philadelphia’s +120 moneyline to be profitable, they must win 46% of the time here. Finally, the 216 over under is on the lower end. Philadelphia currently leads the NBA with a 59.3 cover percentage, although Boston is 4th at 56.7%. In addition, the 76ers are 8th in over percentage while the Celtics are 10th.

Betting Trends

  • Celtics are 36-16-1 ATS in their last 53 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600
  • 76ers are 26-12 ATS in their last 38 home games
  • Celtics are 6-1 ATS in the last 7 meetings
  • Under is 4-1 in the last 5 meetings

Key Matchups

Which teams will win the game-determining matchups?

James Harden Efficiency

Harden is a mystery box during the playoffs. He stole Game 1 through his 45-point performance, but he deflated in Game 2 by producing 12 points on 2/14 shooting. Which extreme will Harden approach in Game 3? If he sinks again, then it’s extremely difficult to envision Philadelphia keeping pace with Boston’s superb offense. The 76ers don’t require a Herculean game, but 25+ points on good efficiency is borderline essential here for Philadelphia to win.

Malcolm Brogdon

When Brogdon is on the court in this series, the Celtics are +14 points per 100 possessions. He’s at 21.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG, and 2.5 APG on a ridiculous 51/50/75 shooting split. Need a primary ball handler to orchestrate possessions? Check. Need an off-ball shooter to knock down threes? Check. Need a disruptive perimeter defender? Check. Brogdon fills so many roles for the Celtics – if he continues his recent play, then Boston can count on a huge bench advantage.

Boston Celtics Starting Lineup

PG: Marcus Smart
SG: Derrick White
SF: Jaylen Brown
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Al Horford

Philadelphia 76ers Starting Lineups

PG: James Harden
SG: Tyrese Maxey
SF: Tobias Harris
PF: P.J. Tucker
C: Joel Embiid

Key Injuries

Boston Celtics Injuries: Danilo Gallinari (O)

Philadelphia 76ers Injuries: Joel Embiid (P)

Braxton has been covering the NBA for Lineups since the 2021-22 season. He's worked with multiple collegiate coaching staffs about analytics and scouting, which has allowed him to understand the game on a deeper level. Braxton is also a contributor at Thunderous Intentions and NBA Analysis Network.

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