Two pillars of the Eastern Conference throughout the NBA’s history will get an opportunity to match up in the playoffs this year, as the 52-30 Philadelphia 76ers and 55-27 Boston Celtics will begin their second-round series today (8 p.m. ET Monday on TNT).
Both teams have unbelievably bright futures led by excellent young two-way players. Unfortunately for Boston, two main starts in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward are out for the season with significant injuries.
Still, this should be an entertaining matchup that pits several great up-and-coming talent against each other. Who will win today’s Game 1 in Boston? Let’s delve into some of the game’s biggest issues before making our Sixers vs Boston Celtics predictions and picks for the game’s outcome against the main betting lines.
How Will Contrasting All-Star Centers Match Up?
It’s always a treat when the NBA gives us a playoff series featuring a matchup of two All-Stars on different teams playing the same position. Celtics center Al Horford and 76ers center Joel Embiid will likely guard each other a large chunk of the time when they are on the floor.
Horford and Embiid have some similarities. Both guys are excellent defensively and have the range to step out for the occasional three-point shot, though Horford is much more accurate.
The differences are more stark, though. Horford creates offense with his knack for passing and quickness advantage over other big men. He also has a nice hook shot and he is very versatile on defense.
Embiid, on the other hand, is physically overwhelming and uses that advantage to impose his will near the rim on both ends of the floor. He is much bigger than Horford and is very difficult to contain without fouling. He has an amazing level of skill for his size, but against Horford, his advantage is strength. Will Embiid’s strength or Horford’s quickness be the bigger story in this game?
Will Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum Be Two Best Wings?
In some order, the three best players in this series are the Sixers’ Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and the Celtics’ Al Horford. That’s two big men and a point guard.
After that top three, it gets muddled, but four guys you have to consider for that fourth spot are the four starting wings of these teams: J.J. Redick and Robert Covington for the Sixers, and Brown and Tatum for the Celtics. Redick and Covington are veteran three-point specialists, and Covington is also a defensive ace. Brown and Tatum are athletic, long youngsters who do a bit of everything.
The Sixers will win this game and the series if the overall impact from Redick and Covington is very similar to that of Brown and Tatum. However, Brown and Tatum are hot young prospects and have a higher ceiling for their play in this series. If they can blossom into stars, the Celtics have a really good chance in this game and the series.
Will Sixers’ Bench Impose Its Will?
The Celtics’ losses of Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving and Daniel Theis have a ripple effect throughout the entire roster. The normally deep team now has a very mediocre bench, and that bench was quite weak on the offensive end against the Bucks in the first round. Keep in mind that Milwaukee’s reserves are quite terrible.
Philadelphia’s bench was quite strong in the first round. The players outside of its regular starting lineup combined to average 38.6 points per game off the bench on a 56.7 true shooting percentage. Boston’s reserves put up 28.1 points per contest with a putrid 46.2 true shooting percentage.
Philly should have the big bench advantage, even though Boston’s strong point among its reserves is defense. The Sixers can’t let the Celtics muck the game up when the bench players come in for both games. That would only serve to minimize the talent difference that Philadelphia has.
Our Preview’s Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics Game 1 Betting Picks & Predictions
Philadelphia hasn’t played for about a week, while Boston is coming off a seven-game series against the Bucks. The Celtics, who don’t have great depth, will look considerably less rested in this game and fall victim to the Sixers’ high-octane transition offense. So here are the 76ers vs Boston Celtics predictions and Game 1 picks for this preview:
- The Sixers are favorite and the spread for this game ranges from 3 to 3.5 points with the bookies specializing in sports betting for USA Expect the better team in this matchup to start the series on a good note. Bet on the 76ers -3pts @ -110 with Intertops, 5Dimes or Bookmaker. It is -3.5pts for -105 odds with Bovada.
- While the Celtics have trouble scoring, the Sixers play fast enough that the Celtics will find plenty of transition buckets here and there and will keep the score on the high side. You’ll find your best odds of over 208pts @ -110 with Bovada, Intertops, 5Dimes or Bookmaker.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.