Wednesday NBA Odds, Preview, Prediction for 76ers vs Celtics (Feb. 8)

Wednesday NBA Odds, Preview, Prediction for 76ers vs Celtics (Feb. 8) article feature image

Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Joel Embiid (21) of the Philadelphia 76ers.

  • The Boston Celtics (38-16) host the Philadelphia 76ers (34-18) on Wednesday evening for a matchup between NBA Eastern Conference titans.
  • The Celtics opened as 4.5-point home favorites, and the status of 76ers star center Joel Embiid remains questionable.
  • NBA betting analyst Joe Dellera previews tonight's NBA game, including updated odds, picks and predictions for 76ers vs Celtics.

76ers vs Celtics Odds

76ers Odds+4
Celtics Odds-4
Time7:30 p.m. ET
Updated odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

Two of the NBA Eastern Conference's best teams face off tonight in Boston, MA. Can the 76ers continue to narrow the gap between themselves and the Celtics?

Let's break down how to bet Wednesday's pivot NBA matchup.

Philadelphia 76ers

As of writing, 76ers center Joel Embiid is listed as questionable to play. But, even if Embiid does suit up, this is a spot where Embiid has recently struggled offensively.

In five matchups with the Celtics during the last two seasons, Embiid has averaged 24.8 points — and further, that average is buoyed by one 41-point performance.

However, he has maintained his abilities to rebound and distribute. In his last five games versus Boston, Embiid has exceeded his assists line of 3.5 and his rebounds + assists line in every game while averaging 5.6 and 18.6 respectively. I'm targeting those props today.

As for the on-court matchup, the Sixers have been exceptional this season. Philadelphia ranks fifth in Adjusted Net Rating (+2.8), boasting a top-10 Offense and Defense, per Dunks & Threes.

Recently, the 76ers defense has slipped: It has conceded 117.6 points per 100 possessions during the last two weeks, per Cleaning the Glass. However, that recently slide a bit skewed with three of the six games coming against top 10 offenses (Denver, Brooklyn and New York). The 76ers defense is still elite.

These two teams are evenly matched, but the key for Philadelphia is to control the paint through Joel Embiid. He does not necessarily need to score, but he needs to be the dominant force on the interior and run the offense through him.

This will put pressure on Boston if it attempts to double-team Embiid and force the ball out of his hands. If his teammates can knock their shots down from his facilitating, it will force Boston to adjust its defense.

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Boston Celtics

The Celtics have a relatively lengthy injury report: Jaylen Brown (illness), Robert Williams (ankle), and Luke Kornet (ankle) are all listed as Probable for tonight's matchup. The Celtics will continue to miss Marcus Smart (ankle), which will negatively impact their defense.

Boston sits atop the NBA with a +6.0 Adjusted Net Rating but its margin is narrowing. The Celtics remain elite on both offense and defense with Adjusted Offense (117.4) and Defense (111.4) that each rank in the top five. They have been extremely well coached, and Jayson Tatum is delivering another excellent season.

Boston has played extremely well against other top teams. It ranks first in point differential (+10.2) against other top-10 teams and boasts an 11-4 record to go with it, per Cleaning the Glass. The Celtics play their best basketball when they are truly tested. However, this does not make them unstoppable.

Boston prefers to play in the half-court, and this is an area that Philadelphia defends well. Philly has the size to put pressure on Boston in the halfcourt, and the move to have Tyrese Maxey play off the bench strengthens the defense in the starting lineup.

Derrick White has served as an admirable fill-in for Marcus Smart, but Smart's absence negatively impacts the team's bench depth. In a matchup as close as this one, those slight differences matter.

76ers vs Celtics Pick

I don't expect either team to break out all of its tricks as if Wednesday's matchup was a playoff series. However, this is a critical game for tie-breaking purposes, because the Celtics won the first of these two teams' four matchups this season. A Celtics win would pull them three games ahead of Philly in the loss column and give them a 2-0 lead in the tiebreaker.

Philadelphia's strength has been on the road: The 76ers are one of the best road teams in the NBA, and they have also played well as an underdog with a 7-6 straight-up record.

I expect Philadelphia to keep it close, and Philly could win outright. This spread is a bit too high — it should be within one possession.

Pick: 76ers +4.5 or better

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