Have the real Boston Celtics finally showed up? After an embarrassing performance in a game one loss to the Embiid-less 76ers, the Celtics have now taken command of the series with a 2-1 lead. The duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have opened up the rest of the offense, steamrolling the Sixers defense as they have been spread thin. Even the return of Embiid has proven to be futile. With Embiid forced to anchor the paint, my prediction is that Al Horford will continue to capitalize on open looks from the perimeter.
Boston Celtics vs Philadelphia 76ers Prediction
This has been a popular bet for me this series, cashing with ease in their last game out as Al Horford went 5-8 from deep. The Celtics plan of attack plays friendly towards the number of opportunities in Al Horford’s favor, being allowed to stretch out to the perimeter as Joel Embiid is forced to anchor the paint in an attempt to negate the quality of look from a driving Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown.
Running five out has been the Celtics bread and butter, fielding a plethora of playmakers that can both spot up and slash into the interior. Marcus Smart has still been inconsistent in his attempts to garner respect as a knockdown shooter but has molded into a slashing playmaker that can hit an open shooter in stride. One of those shooters being Al Horford, playing as a spot up big man in the corner of a stretched-out scheme.
The issue with the Celtics offense is that even if Horford finds his stroke early, the 76ers still have to stay put and continue to dare their secondary scorers to beat them from over the top. This is in large part due to Tatum and Brown playing as the most lethal scoring duo in the NBA, being heavily correlated to the Celtics offensive sustainability. Philly has quickly come to terms with knowing you can’t completely shut them all down, especially with a hobbled Embiid who has been slow in defensive shifts across the paint.
Boston Celtics vs Philadelphia 76ers Betting Odds
Even with two dominant wins in a row, oddsmakers have still tempered their expectations of the Celtics to make it three in a row by opening them as a -2.5 favorite in game four. Bettors have yet to take a firm stand on either end of the spread, keeping the number the same since the opener. I heavily lean towards the Celtics favor as well as Embiid has shown little signs of progression from his injury. This hampers their interior defense which is where the Celtics thrive.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a slow pace as oddsmakers opened the number at 214. Bettors have slightly leaned towards the overs favor, taking the number up to 214.5 in some shops as of writing. This is an immediate stay away from me as Tatum has been prone to inconsistent scoring outputs in the playoffs, having to deal with a heavy defensive pressure from the 76ers defensive scheme which can drastically halt the Celtics scoring potential.
- Over is 5-2 in the last seven meetings in Philadelphia
- Celtics are 7-1 ATS in the last eight meetings against each other
- Celtics are 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings in Philadelphia
How will the Celtics fare at the perimeter as a unit against the 76ers?
Celtics three point shooting Vs. 76ers perimeter defense
Al Horford is the not the only perimeter shooter we need to hone in on as the rest of the Celtics ability to stretch out the defense will go a long ways in getting Horford more high quality looks from deep as well.
While this was normally a strong suit for the Sixers defense, they have actually regressed at defending the perimeter by giving up a 37.7% completion percentage from deep in their last three contests per TeamRankings.
This is in large part of having to send help side coverage down into the interior to help Embiid through his injury woes, opening up the opposite side of the perimeter for a high-quality look from deep.
With Joel Embiid being forced to anchor the paint, take Al Horford over 1.5 threes as he should continue to garner high quality looks from deep.
Boston Celtics Starting Lineup
Philadelphia 76ers Starting Lineups
Boston Celtics Injuries: Marcus Smart (Q), Blake Griffin (Q)
Philadelphia 76ers Injuries: Joel Embiid (Q)