Monday NBA Odds, Betting Picks & Predictions: 76ers vs. Celtics Game 1 Preview (August 17)

Credit:

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images. Pictured: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers

  • The Celtics are a 5.5-point favorite over the 76ers in Game 1 of their first-round series, with the total at 218.5.
  • Philly took three of four during the regular season but will now be without Ben Simmons. Boston couldn't match up with Joel Embiid down low.
  • Get Reed Wallach's full preview for 76ers vs. Celtics below.

76ers vs. Celtics Betting Odds

76ers Odds +5.5 [BET NOW]
Celtics Odds -5.5 [BET NOW]
Moneyline -245/+205 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 218.5 [BET NOW]
Time Monday, 6:30 p.m. ET
TV ESPN

Odds via Parx, which offers new customers a 20% profit boost + $500 risk-free wager on their first bet AND your bets automatically sync to the Action app. Learn more about BetSync here.


In the 3-6 matchup in the East, the Boston Celtics meet the Philadelphia 76ers. Without Ben Simmons, the story of this series will be if Joel Embiid can carry the undermanned Sixers past the up and coming Celtics.

Boston comes in to this one as the clear favorite, -360 as of this writing, which translates to an implied probability of 78.13%.

Philly took three of four games (straight up and against the spread) from Boston this season, but this is a different Sixers team without Simmons.

As for Game 1, the C’s are -5.5 with the total set at 218.5.

Let’s see where these two stand for not only Game 1, but for the whole series.

Philadelphia 76ers

The up-and-down Sixers are at their lowest heading into the playoffs. The team is down its All-World defender in Simmons to check Jayson Tatum, and seems to be heading towards a tense offseason full of tough decisions. This could be the final stand for Philly, and there does appear to be a path to a win, and it starts and ends with Embiid.

Embiid is a matchup nightmare for the undersized Celtics. As Matt Moore put so nicely here, the Sixers can be a live dog in this series based on Embiid’s ability to dominate the Celtic frontcourt. If Daniel Theis, who will struggle to begin with, finds himself in foul trouble, Boston is lacking reliable bigs. Moore is much more bullish on Enes Kanter’s ability to hang tough down low on Embiid than I am, but he may be their only hope if Theis can’t excel and Robert Williams proves to be not ready for the moment.

One number to note — and continue to hammer home if you are still believing in Philly — is that they were a smidge worse with Simmons on the floor this season against Boston, and 16 points better when he was on the bench, per Moore. Going 3-1 against their Atlantic Division rival is a nice starting point, but also being significantly better with Simmons off the floor is something to get behind.

If Embiid wants to do the thing and win the series by himself, he could. Although, he is nursing some nagging injuries to his hand and ankle, and with the climate of the team, we may not see the dominant Embiid enough for an upset.

Philly’s defense has fallen off a cliff since the restart and its bench is being worn thin, but the Sixers have stuck to their ideology on D. They do not allow a lot of three’s, fourth least per game since the restart, and have rim protectors in Al Horford and Embiid to hold down the paint.

With no Simmons, the Sixers best bet is probably to feed Embiid and make it rain from beyond the arc. Philly’s offense has been stronger in the bubble than the regular season. The team’s effective field goal percentage is up more than 2% and is the third best inside the bubble (EFG% weights three-point shots more). If Embiid can get rolling and the likes of Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson and Alec Burks (who has been great in the bubble by all metrics), Philly all of a sudden has its offensive identity to keep pace with Boston.

In the end, I think that it is going to be telegraphed quickly which 76ers team is going to show up, which can be seen through Embiid’s attitude. He’s the only way the Sixers stand a chance.

Boston Celtics

Boston comes into the postseason on fire. Before resting all key players in their final bubble game, the Celtics put up 120 or more in five of seven bubble games, one of which went to OT. If you take out the final game against Washington, Boston had the second-best offensive rating in Orlando, scoring an insane 120 points per 100 possessions.

Paced by Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and a rounding into form Kemba Walker, Boston seems to be hitting its stride at the right time.

This will likely continue against Philadelphia who has the sixth-worst defensive rating in the bubble. With no Simmons, Philadelphia will need to lean on rookie Matisse Thybulle throughout the series. While a menace on the defensive end, the Celtics may be able to ignore him on the perimeter and throw doubles at Embiid.

With high level defenders like Tatum and Marcus Smart, Boston can patch up its lack of size with a strong defensive strategy.

Boston has conceded the fifth-most three’s inside the bubble, over 37 per game, but opponents are shooting a low mark of 32%. This is by design as the Celtics attempt to limit points in the paint to the best of their ability but concede the three, where their long wing defenders can get a high hand and challenge the shots. For Boston, Philly could be playing into their hand of taking shots from three where Boston has proven it can defend.

Past the high-end talents, there is a considerable drop off for the Celtics. Guard Brad Wannamaker is going to need to show up at times for the Celtics to keep the pace, but Boston’s depth issue probably will be negated by Philly’s even weaker second unit. Full of playmakers, Boston’s top 7 is as good as anyone in the East, and that could be enough to get past Embiid and the remaining Sixers.

Betting Analysis & Pick

I do think the value in this series lies with Philadelphia. If the right Embiid shows up, he has the capability of taking the series himself. At +275, that isn’t enough for me to get on the Philly bandwagon, but I do think they have a shot at pulling this out and will be watching this game carefully to see how the Sixers perform and maybe get involved at a better price down 1-0 if they lose.

For this game, the line is high for this Philly team that is such an unknown. We have hardly seen Embiid play with this new lineup as he has been in and out of the lineup throughout the seeding games. Ultimately, I am just not sure what kind of Sixer team we see on Monday. My head says that Boston should probably roll, but my gut wants to wait and see how Embiid looks.

With that being said, I am siding with the over 218.5. Both teams are playing faster in the bubble and Boston does allow a ton of three’s, giving the path for the Sixers to get hot from beyond the arc to stay in this game. Even so, Philly’s porous bubble defense won’t be able to keep Boston down for long. I like the over up to 220.

Pick: Over 218.5

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