Jayson Tatum and the Celtics open their series with the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday. Photo from @DailyNBAStats (Twitter).
- The Celtics are 5.5-point favorites over the 76ers in Game 1 of their playoff series
- Philadelphia stumbles in after losing three of their last four games in the bubble
- Read below for a deeper look at the opening game on this first round tilt
The NBA Playoffs are here, and after all of the waiting it took to get to this point, it’s a fantastic feeling to have postseason basketball in front of us. That “March Madness” style of scheduling, with games all day long, will continue into this first round, and the third part of Monday’s basketball marathon will feature Philadelphia and Boston opening up their series.
This series will feature two of the league’s bigger brands and some of its best young stars, but it is Boston who has the edge in the 76ers vs Celtics odds.
Philadelphia 76ers vs Boston Celtics Odds
|Team||Spread at FanDuel||Moneyline||Total|
|Philadelphia 76ers||+5.5 (-108)||+198||O 218 (-110)|
|Boston Celtics||-5.5 (-112)||-240||U 218 (-110)|
Odds taken Aug. 16
Chemistry Issues Still Exist in Philly
One of the biggest talking points as the return to play neared closer was the potential improvement of the Philadelphia 76ers. While slotted in playoff position before the suspension of play, the team still wasn’t playing nearly at the level it should have been, losing four of their last seven games before the league pulled the plug.
They had a similar finish in the bubble, losing three of their last four seeding games, and only beating a Houston team that already had their spot in the playoffs locked up. When it comes to momentum, there may not be a team with less than the 76ers.
Philadelphia is just 20th in the league in points, 19th in made three pointers, and 21st in free throw attempts. In the bubble, they were near the bottom of the field in assists (15th), three-pointers made (14th), and free throw percentage (19th).
Making things even worse for Philly is the injuries they’re dealing with. The biggest of those is to Ben Simmons, who will be out indefinitely after having surgery on his left knee. That’s 16.4 points, 8.0 assists, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.1 steals per game that the 76ers will be without. That’s not the end of it. Joel Embiid has been dealing with soreness in the left knee and some issues in his right hand.
Smooth Sailing for the Celtics
The Celtics’ solid season stands in stark contrast to Philadelphia. While the 76ers have dealt with chemistry issues, offensive inconsistency, and injuries, Boston has had a season of positivity for the most part.
One of the biggest revelations of the season has been the growth of Jayson Tatum. He’s seen jumps in rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals.
The biggest statistical jump, however, has come in points. Tatum has looked like a new player with the ball at times, and that was displayed in a nearly eight point per game leap. His ability as a scorer has been so diverse, which makes this season especially impressive.
He can finish at the hoop and displays a nice mid-range game, but it’s behind the arc where Tatum has really stepped things up. When it comes to pull-up threes, he’s making an amazing 40.4% of them.
What’s the Best Bet?
It’s tough to try not to side with Boston here. The Celtics have the edge over Philadelphia in offensive rating, defensive rating, effective field goal percentage, opponent effective field goal percentage, pace, and even opponent three-point percentage.
Additionally, track record is a big factor here. The 76ers have been poor against the spread, with a record of 31-38-4 on the year. That hasn’t changed in the bubble, with Brett Brown’s team finishing 3-5 ATS.
Boston -5.5 is the pick here, due in big part to a lack of faith in Philadelphia. It’s been a tumultuous and underwhelming year, and fading the 76ers has consistently been the right move. The Celtics’ success only reinforces the pick.
The Pick: Boston -5.5 (-112)
With four years as radio host with The Ticket Sports Network and various written contributions to publications such as Fansided, Southbound and Down, and Last Word on Sports, Jake Mitchell comes to SBD with NFL, NBA, NCAAM, NCAAF and MMA know-how you can count on.