For the second time in three nights, Boston and Philadelphia will be duking it out. And once again, the Celtics are without their superstar Jayson Tatum, as he continues to recover from COVID-19. The 76ers expect to have Joel Embiid in the lineup, ready to wreak havoc on a much smaller team.
Boston has managed to go 8-5 to this point, though they have dropped two in a row. Kemba Walker’s restrictions will keep him from having a significant impact on the game and limit him to only a few good stretches. The pressure then falls to Jaylen Brown, the last consistent scorer, and playmaker the team has still in the lineup.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia has the best record in the East at 10-5, nearly unbeatable when they have their full complement of stars. Rookie Tyrese Maxey played 45 minutes just a few weeks ago when the team could only use seven players for a Saturday matinee. They are much healthier now and proving to the league just what they can do when all the pieces are active.
The spread here is set at 76ers -5. The Celtics moneyline is +165, while it is -205 for Philly.
Celtics Look for Revenge
When these teams met on Wednesday, Boston could not get stops without fouling, as the 76ers ended up taking 45 free throws, making 36 of them. Fair or not, it’s how the game went, and they will need to figure out a way to get stops, or that will be the case for the second time in a week.
With the rotation ever-changing, we’ve seen the Celtics use several point guards consistently. We see Javonte Green in the rotation off the bench with Jeff Teague and the rookie Payton Pritchard.
And with Walker, that makes four. If you count Marcus Smart as a point guard, that’s five guys playing the position.
To get it done, Tristan Thompson and Daniel Theis will need to limit Embiid’s scoring opportunities while also getting him into foul trouble.
Philadelphia Seeks Eleventh Win
The chances are slim that the 76ers can get to the free-throw line 45 times again. They do some good things on the floor, and those others will be what can get them the win. Shooting the three at a high-rate, and finding players to come off the bench and bury the outside shots.
A change of scenery has been just what Danny Green needed, and his play certainly better than it was with the Lakers last season. Tobias Harris has been one of the most effective scorers in the league, while Shake Milton has been in an incredible rhythm over the past two weeks.
With Ben Simmons anchoring the defense and finding open shooters, the team is usually in an excellent position to win. But for the love of Pete, when the game is on the line late, keep the ball out of Simmons’ hands. As we saw last week, he’s too passive, making a pass with less than one second left to Maxey with the team trailing.
Celtics Bounce Back
The Celtics will win this one, handing the 76ers a loss to avenge Wednesday’s efforts.