In stunning fashion, James Harden turned back the clock and put on a vintage scoring performance as he propelled the 76ers to a game one victory. The Celtics defense had no answers in an attempt to slow down his patented step backs and mid-range pull ups, as Harden scorched the C’s for 45 points. Worse yet for Boston, Joel Embiid is trending towards playing in game two after sitting out game one with a knee injury.
76ers vs Celtics Game 2 Best Bets
Find best bets for Wednesday night’s game 2 showdown between the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics. The Celtics are currently favored by 8.
I rode the 76ers +10 in game one without Embiid and now am taking them at no lower than +8 with him back on the court. Even in a limited capacity, Embiid’s presence should give an instant boost in defensive production as he anchors the interior.
Should he get ruled out before tip-off, I would expect this line to tick back up a bit in an overreaction and would still play the Sixers for a much smaller wager. They have shown the ability to go basket for basket on the offensive end with Harden having a heavier usage.
Jaylen Brown o24.5 Points
While Jaylen Brown still finished with an impressive stat line in a 23-point performance, it was a bit confusing of how he only rifled off 10 total shot attempts as one of the Celtics go-to scorers. A brunt of that has to deal with Tatum chucking up 25 shot attempts, but still confusing nonetheless.
I am hard pressed to see him disappear for two straight games from a shot attempt perspective, giving Brown more opportunities to clear this number. Especially with the Sixers sending more defensive pressure at Tatum in an effort to slow him down, giving Brown more room to work with as a lethal playmaker off the dribble. Especially if Embiid opts out, giving Brown clean looks at the rim all game long.
Al Horford o1.5 Threes
In a bit of a head scratching move, the Celtics opted into the idea of stretching out Horford in their offensive sets while the Sixers defense were severely undersized. This allowed the Celtics to consistently drive in the paint for high quality looks at the rim but negated their rebounding ability with Horford settling away from the rim.
With Embiid potentially returning, I believe the Celtics will continue to stretch out Horford in an attempt to get Embiid’s defensive presence away from the rim. Coming off a knee injury, Embiid may waver towards anchoring the paint as he will want to limit his movement as much as possible, giving Horford open looks from deep.
Marcus Smart o5.5 Assists
Without Embiid, the Celtics were gifted the ability to relentlessly attack the rim off the dribble which limited potential assists. Even in that game plan, Smart still rattled off seven assists throughout the contest.
With Embiid potentially back in for game two and anchoring the paint, Smart may opt into the idea of driving towards the interior to collapse the defense and kicking back out to an open shooter at the perimeter. The Celtics play a stretched-out style of offense with Tatum, Brown, White, and Horford all being able to knock down the three.
James Harden u21.5 Points
After exploding for 45 points in game one, my last best bet naturally has to be an under for James Harden points in game two. Not exactly settling on the stomach after witnessing how effortless he made it in his previous performance, but this is in direct correlation with Embiid’s return.
Harden’s offensive explosion came with a heavier usage as the Sixers were hurting for a go-to scorer, now easing the load off of Harden with the ability to dump it down low to this year’s MVP. The Celtics defense may also shift their identity to apply more pressure at the perimeter in an effort to get the ball out of Harden’s hands, forcing Embiid to beat them off the block or kicking it out to one of their secondary scorers.