One of the best rivalries in the NBA will get another classic instalment as the Celtics and 76ers do battle in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. The 76ers will be undermanned and enter as underdogs, can they cause an upset?
Check out our full series hub including series preview and game by game betting picks below. Don’t forget to head to our NBA Betting Picks page for a full preview or EVERY series throughout the NBA playoffs!
Boston Celtics vs Philadelphia 76ers
Regardless of what happens in the playoffs this season, Celtics fans have a lot to be excited about with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown likely to be a big part of their lives for the next decade. The two wings are two of the most exciting young players in the league and will get even more invaluable playoff experience this season.
Combine those two with a star veteran point guard in Kemba Walker and a undervalued utility in Gordon Hawyward and you have the recipe for a team that could challenge for the Eastern Conference title, as long as all the pieces are healthy and meshing. They should enter the playoffs with a clean bill of health, which gives them a massive advantage over the 76ers.
Key Player: Daniel Thies
If there is one thing that the Celtics lack, it’s probably a reliable defensive big man. That is why Daniel Thies needs to step up, particularly in this series where he’ll be responsible for star 76ers big man Joel Embiid. Embiid will be out to prove a point with with no Ben Simmons in the side, so if Thies can stem the flow of the big man, it will go a long way towards winning this series.
The 76ers have had a horror run since the season restarted. They slipped to sixth in the Eastern Conference standings, meaning they’ll have a much harder first round matchup and to ake matters worse, their star point guard Ben Simmons went down with a knee injury and will miss the rest of the season.
There are also some slight concerns over the health of Joel Embiid, but there’s no doubt the big man will start the series against the Celtics if coach Brett Brown has anything to say about it. With the 76ers failing to live up to lofty expectations and a star-studded roster once again this season, this could likely be Brown’s last hurrah.
Key Player: Joel Embiid
You can pick and choose key players for specific matchups, but the hopes of the 76ers in these playoffs rest solely on one man’s shoulders and that man is Joel Embiid. The big man has never been one for playing big minutes but he’ll need to be the anchor for the 76ers on both offense and defense in this series.
Series Betting Picks
If Simmons was healthy we’d probably give the slight edge to the 76ers here despite how poor they have been since the season restarted. With Simmons out, it becomes a more even clash and maybe even tips the scales in favour of the Celtics.
The most important thing for the Celtics is that they stay healthy. Both Walker and Hayward have battled injuries this season and losing just one of them I think would be too much for the Celtics to cover. We think they win this series, but it should go to at least six games.
Game by Game
Monday, August 17th, 6.30pm (ET)
The Celtics start as 5.5 point favourites in Game 1 of the series and we think that line is about right given there are a lot of unknowns surrounding the 76ers at the moment. Back the Celtics to cover in this one. Celtics -5.5 (-110 at DraftKings) ✅
Wednesday, August 19th, 6.30pm (ET)
The Celtics looked too strong in Game 1 despite a gallant effort from 76ers big man Joel Embiid, who scored 26 points and pulled in 16 rebounds in the loss. The combo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown looks too good defensively against the 76ers wings, stifling a large portion of their offense. The Celtics should continue to figure out ways to stop Embiid throughout this series so we expect this one to be another low scoring clash. Under 215 Total Points (-109 at DraftKings) ❌
Friday, August 21st, 6.30pm (ET)
Game 2 certainly didn’t go how we envisioned, with Celtics putting up 128 points to capture a dominant 27 point win. At this stage, they just look far too good for the 76ers on both ends of the floor, and we cant see that letting up on Friday night. Celtics -5 (-110 at DraftKings) ✅
Sunday, August 23rd, 1.00pm (ET)
The Celtics have absolutely dominated this series so far and along with the Heat, are the only teams to lead their series 3-0. They are 8 point favourites for this clash, but we are opting for the 76ers to cover this increased line. 76ers +8 (-110 at DraftKings) ✅
CELTICS WIN SERIES 4-0
Game by game record: 3-1
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