76ers vs. Celtics Odds, Expert Picks, Predictions | NBA Playoffs Game 2 Betting Preview (May 3)

76ers vs. Celtics Odds, Expert Picks, Predictions | NBA Playoffs Game 2 Betting Preview (May 3) article feature image
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Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics and James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers.

  • The Celtics look to even their series with the 76ers at 1-1 on Wednesday night.
  • Boston is an eight-point favorite against Philly, but Joel Embiid is expected to return to action.
  • Chris Baker previews the game and makes his betting pick below.

76ers vs. Celtics Odds

76ers Odds+8
Celtics Odds-8
Over/Under216.5
Time8 p.m. ET
TVTNT
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

James Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers shocked the world Monday night as they were able to pull off the upset against the Celtics in Boston on the back of Harden’s 45 points. With the win, the 76ers became the third team to close as a double-digit underdog and win outright in the playoffs this season.

Can the 76ers pull off another miraculous road upset? Or will the Celtics even up this series at 1-1? Let’s dive into the odds and matchup in the 76ers vs. Celtics Game 2 preview.


Editor's Note — Joel Embiid is expected to return to the lineup for the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 2, barring any pregame setbacks, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. For real-time injury updates, check out our FantasyLabs NBA news page.


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Philadelphia 76ers

The 76ers' offensive process in Game 1 was about as good as you could possibly ask for. They turned the ball over on just 9% of their possessions (95th percentile) and managed to get up 41% of their shots from deep. They shot the ball efficiently from all areas of the floor and ended up finishing with a remarkable 133.7 Offensive Rating, according to Cleaning the Glass. It was a perfect offensive performance, but it is certainly reasonable to expect some negative regression from this Sixers offense.

Going off of the eye test it was clear that James Harden and De’Anthony Melton both shot above expectation as they each converted on multiple heavily contested 3s. Expect the 76ers offense to regress a bit from deep, but overall I think you have to be encouraged by how the offense looked being led by Harden and Tyrese Maxey. If you turn the ball over at a low rate and get up that many 3s you are going to have a chance to win in the vast majority of NBA games.

The issue for this 76ers team was their defense, especially in the 1st half. The 76ers allowed the Celtics to shoot 22/26 at the rim and their paint defense was pretty much non-existent. They were able to win on the back of their offense but you’d have to expect offensive regression tonight so the 76ers need to figure out how to keep the Celtics out of the restricted area.

A good aspect of Philly's defensive game plan was their 3-point defense. The Celtics attempted just 31% of their shots from deep, converting on just 9-0f-25 (36%) on these looks. Boston was 2nd in the NBA in 3-point attempt rate (44.5%) so it is certainly a good sign that the 76ers were able to disrupt their offensive rhythm. Some of this decrease in 3-point attempts can be attributed to the Philadelphia's lousy rim protection but certainly not all of it as the Celtics were forced into some tougher mid-range looks in that 2nd half.

Still, the Celtics had an elite offensive rating of 127.8 and shot 65.3% effectively from the field so the 76ers are going to have to find a way to be better at the point of attack. The Celtics will likely not repeat their woeful turnover rate of (17.8%) so the 76ers will certainly need to make a few adjustments tonight in Game 2.


Boston Celtics

Boston lost Game 1 because they could not take care of the ball. They lost the turnover battle by 10 (16 to 6) and it was certainly the primary reason they ended up losing the game. Expect the Celtics to make turnovers a point of emphasis and expect positive regression in that department as the 76ers weren’t great at forcing turnovers this season.

The 76ers don’t really have elite perimeter defenders, I think the Celtics' turnover issues stemmed from their own carelessness with the ball. If they tighten their turnover issues up the sky is certainly the limit for their offense as they had an elite 116.9 half-court Offensive Rating (97th percentile) despite their ball control issues.

Boston was able to get whatever it wanted at the rim in the 1st half and I wouldn’t expect that to change unless Joel Embiid returns to the lineup for Game 2.


Bet Philadelphia vs. Boston at FanDuel


Embiid’s return will be a little bit of good news/bad news for the 76ers defense as the Celtics would likely be able to get up many more 3s if Philadelphia has Embiid on the floor. The 76ers rim defense would certainly improve with Embiid, but their 3-point defense would likely get significantly worse.

Defensively, I would expect the Celtics to improve as they will likely come out with much more urgency on the defensive end. I didn’t hate the Celtics defensive process I just felt like their on-ball pressure and help defense on drives was extremely lackadaisical. Many of the Celtics' defensive issues will be solved by a little bit more urgency on their home floor in a must-win game. Expect Boston's defense to also look better just by virtue of simple negative shooting regression from the 76ers.

Philly pretty much hit every contested jump shot all game and it is unreasonable to expect them to shoot at that level in back-to-back games. The Celtics defense should also improve with a potential increase in Robert Williams' minutes. Williams had an elite net rating of 25.2 and a defensive rating of 105.4 during his 20 minutes last night.

Compare Williams to Al Horford's -28.8 Net Rating and woeful 144.1 Defensive Rating, and I would argue it is reasonable to expect 'Time Lord' to play a bit more in Game 2. Horford looked beatable in pick-and-roll coverage and in switches, so expect Williams' minutes to ramp up in Game 2. That should lead to more stops, more transition opportunities and a lot more rim pressure on offense since the 76ers don’t really have anyone that can defend Williams at the rim.

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76ers-Celtics Pick

I would expect the Celtics to play with much more urgency tonight, so I would lean toward betting them on the spread at -9.5. This also feels like a punt spot for the 76ers. They got their split on the road, I think we may see them opt to rest Embiid once again as they try to get 100% for Game 3 on Friday night.

I'd play Boston up to -10. As of 11:25 p.m. ET on Tuesday night, the only sportsbook offering Celtics -9.5 is PointsBet.

Pick: Celtics -9.5 (Bet to -10)

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Nick Sterling
Jul 21, 2024 UTC