The stakes couldn’t be any higher for Tuesday night’s dual slate as both series are currently tied at two games apiece. The Sixers and Celtics kick off the slate with the Celtics being a massive odds-on favorite at -7.5 on the open. With both home teams residing as decent sized favorites, my prediction is that both the Celtics and Nuggets pull off the win to gain a 3-2 series lead.
Philadelphia 76ers vs Boston Celtics Prediction
The Pick: Nuggets/Celtics ML Parlay
Keeping the focus on the Sixers and Celtics, the Celtics once again suffered from a lackluster start as Jayson Tatum failed to get it going until late in the second half. That severely halted the Celtics scoring output, giving the Sixers a much needed cushion to draw out the win deep in overtime. Hardly at any fault of his own as the Sixers made it their mission to get the ball out of his hands once he entered halfcourt, daring one of their secondary scorers to beat them instead.
They almost pulled it off as well had Marcus Smart hit the last second opportunity at the end of the fourth quarter. Knowing that the 76ers have opted into a zone coverage with doubles at the top of the perimeter on Jayson Tatum, the Celtics can now make the necessary adjustments to get the likes of Jaylen Brown and Derrick White open in motion sets on the opposite side of the coverage.
Burning the 76ers on the opposite side of the double team gives them an opportunity to beat Embiid in transition as he is still dealing with a nagging knee injury. Should he be able to make the shift in time to negate the Celtics look at the rim, they can throw a slasher into the interior to continue their efforts in shifting the Sixers defensive coverage. Simply put, Boston has the tools to give the Sixers zone fits as a zone creates larger gaps in failed coverage.
Philadelphia 76ers vs Boston Celtics Betting Odds
Oddsmakers tend to agree with my assessment of the Celtics ability to pull out the win as well as they opened Boston as a -7.5 favorite in game five. Bettors have yet to take a firm stance on either side of the spread, keeping the number the same since the opener. They were a near buzzer beater away from pulling it off in game four, now getting the benefit of a home crowd and ample time to draw up a scheme to beat the Sixers zone.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a premium as oddsmakers opened the number at 214.5. Bettors were quick to pounce on the under, taking the number down to as low as 213.5. This comes as a bit of a surprise as they have gone over this total in three of the four matchups thus far with the Celtics interior defense looking as exploitable as ever. A healthy Embiid has imposed his will against them, taking advantage of the lack of Boston’s size down low.
- 76ers are 2-7 ATS in the last nine meetings overall
- 76ers are 5-11 ATS in the last 16 meetings in Boston
- Under is 5-2 in the last seven matchups in Boston
Can the Celtics slow down Joel Embiid?
Joel Embiid Vs. Celtics interior defense
It was a vintage Joel Embiid performance in game four as he finished the contest with 34 points against the Celtics interior. He seemingly generated high quality looks at will, taking advantage of the smaller Celtics front court. An eye opening performance as the Celtics run as the third best Efficient Defense per TeamRankings.
To counteract this, Boston may opt into throwing more doubles on the help side coverage against Embiid. Mainly from whoever is covering PJ Tucker as he has yet to make himself a threat in this series.
This allows them to keep a man in front of Harden, as well as having a second defender in the interior to creep up on his drives to the rim as well. A key reason for why I believe they win outright and take a 3-2 series lead against Philadelphia.
With the number sitting a tad too high for my liking, I am parlaying both the Celtics and Nuggets as I believe both home favorites are in a good position to amplify the pressure and take a 3-2 series lead.
Philadelphia 76ers Starting Lineup
Boston Celtics Starting Lineups
Philadelphia 76ers Injuries: Joel Embiid (Q)
Boston Celtics Injuries: N/A