Brett Boyle previews tonight’s tasty NBA Playoffs matchup between the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics and shares his pick.
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Philadelphia 76ers v Boston Celtics Preview
The wait is over and the NBA playoffs are finally set to begin this Monday, August 17th. The Philadelphia 76ers have had the playoffs clinched since before the pause, but now finally know they will be facing the Boston Celtics when round one tips off Monday night.
The resume to play has not been kind for the Sixers. They finish with a record of 4-4 after their seeding games in Orlando, all while dropping down to the 6th seed in the East and losing All-Star guard Ben Simmons for the season. This is obviously a massive blow to the Sixers hopes of winning the championship this season, but has given some of their other guys a chance to step up. Alec Burks and Mike Scott have found their game again with the additional minutes they have gotten and Al Horford heads into the postseason in good form as well. The Sixers have not played terribly without Simmons, going 2-3 so far in his absence.
The rival Boston Celtics are a familiar opponent for the Sixers. Looking back at their meetings during the regular season, Philadelphia went 3-1 against Boston this year, with two of those wins being by 10+ points. Take this for what it is, as this was obviously a long time ago at this point. The Celtics enter the postseason having gone 5-3 in their Orlando seeding games and with a fully healthy roster.
Philadelphia 76ers v Boston Celtics Game 1 Predictions
Given the loss of Simmons and Boston being the higher seed, the Celtics open up as the betting favorites for game 1, favored by 6 points. I am taking the Sixers at +6 here. Yes, the Sixers have been one of the worst road teams in the NBA this season, BUT in a bubble scenario there really aren’t any “road” or “home” teams anymore. On top of this, the Celtics have not been able to guard Joel Embiid in their meetings this year and I expect that to continue throughout this series. Expect the offense to run through Embiid, especially with Simmons out, and Embiid to put up big numbers.
The Philadelphia 76ers have a chip on their shoulder and with a confident Shake Milton, in form Al Horford, and a rivalry game, I like the Sixers to cover the spread here. As an added bonus, take the over on Shake Milton made threes every chance you get.
This shapes up to be a fun series between two teams that hate each other. Expect a physical, tightly contested series that will likely go at least six games. The key matchups to look out for throughout the series are, as mentioned, Embiid against Enes Kanter, as well as Matisse Thybulle on Jayson Tatum. Game number one tips off at 6:30 ET, 3:30 PT on Monday August 17th on ESPN.