76ers vs. Celtics Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds: Is Philly the Right Side in This Matchup?

76ers vs. Celtics Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds: Is Philly the Right Side in This Matchup? article feature image

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21).

76ers at Celtics Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Spread: 76ers -1.5
  • Over/Under: 210.5
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: TNT

Odds as of Thursday at 1:30 p.m. ET and via PointsBet, where Action Network users can access an exclusive promotion to get a 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150). No strings attached. No rollover required.

Few people outside of Boston expected the Celtics to start the season as well as they have so far, including the Philadelphia 76ers. The two teams face off tonight for the second time this season as the C’s have a slight edged over the Sixers in the East standings.

Will the Celtics have enough firepower against the 76ers at TD Garden? Our NBA experts break down every angle of this matchup including trends and picks.

Betting Trend to Know

A majority of spread tickets are on the Celtics, but more than 70% of dollars on the Sixers. When there is a disparity in dollars vs. tickets this is often an indication of sharp action.

The line has moved from Philly +1.5 to -1.5, which means the pros like Joel Emiid & Co.

Historically, it has been profitable to bet teams receiving a larger percentage of dollars than tickets, even when the line moves (per our Bet Labs data):

John Ewing

Bryan Mears: How I’m Betting this Game

Both teams have been excellent lately, ranking in the top-six in Net Rating over the past two weeks. Philly is coming off back-to-back wins against the Raptors and Nuggets, albeit both at home, and the storyline has been the emergence of 3-and-D rookie wing Matisse Thybulle, who has gone 8-of-12 from beyond the arc in the last two on top of his tenacious defense.

All that said, those shooting numbers are likely to regress: Since Dec. 1, the Sixers are posting a high 58.5% eFG% mark on open shots. Considering their best shooter, Josh Richardson, has been in and out of the lineup lately, that’s 1) impressive but 2) likely to come come down.

That said, the Celtics have been shooting well on their own. In that same span, they’re top-10 on open shots, and on tightly-contested shots they’re posting a league-high 53.5% eFG% mark. They’re coming off a loss to the Pacers, but they’ve been pretty darn good lately against some solid teams. You could make the argument that the Sixers are overvalued because of recency bias, but you could very well make that same argument for the Celtics.

Birds-eye view, the matchup is obviously interesting. Last season the Sixers went 0-4 against the spread when facing the Celtics. Al Horford defends Embiid as well as anyone in the world, and even in a down Cs year, the Sixers just couldn’t get their number as a result. Of course, Horford then left for Philly, not just adding a great starter but also removing one of the best weapons against Embiid.

The Sixers were able to win and cover in their first meeting this season, convincingly in fact, winning 107-93. But I’m hesitant to really give that one any weight: It was opening night of the season, and the Celtics were adjusting to life with Kemba Walker at point, no Horford or Kyrie Irving and the re-addition of wing Gordon Hayward. There were kinks to work out.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) dives for a loose ball.

The spot is also interesting. The narrative is that the Celtics under head coach Brad Stevens do best in the feisty underdog role. And there’s some truth to that: Per Bet Labs, the Celtics under Stevens are 113-87-3 (56.5%) ATS as an underdog, good for a 10.2% Return on Investment for bettors.

But there are surprisingly some odd home/away splits in that sample:

  • Stevens as home dog: 27-31-2, -9.5% ROI
  • Stevens as road dog: 86-56-1, +18.5% ROI

I think the two biggest on-court angles here are whether Marcus Smart plays (he’s out after missing last game with an eye infection/illness) and whether the 76ers can limit turnovers.

On the Smart thing, the Celtics have actually been much better with him off the floor this year to the tune of 7.5 points per 100 possessions. And if you think that’s just starter/bench splits, note that Jayson Tatum has a team-high +18.1 on/off differential — 99th percentile in the league actually. The Celtics are predictably worse offensively with Smart, and their eFG% drops by 4.9%.

In particular, their 3-point shooting drops by a massive 6.6% with Smart playing, and that could be where they need to beat Philly with Embiid and Horford patrolling the paint.

Now to the 76ers: They’re the fourth-most turnover-prone team in the league, and while Embiid gets a ton of narrative blame for that, Ben Simmons has actually been the biggest problem. He leads all qualified players in the NBA this season with a massive 24.3% turnover rate.

The Celtics turn teams over at the second-highest rate in the league this season. Tatum has been especially great at swiping balls, although Smart has, too, so if he’s out that could be less of a problem for the Sixers.

And, of course, things could come down to shooting luck. Tatum could legitimately be the best player on the floor, as he’s often been lately, and he can obviously get hot and burn any good defense. But maybe Thybulle and the Sixers shooters continue their torrid run.

I leaned Sixers back when they opened as a short dog and even around a pick’em, but the value is likely gone here as a small favorite. If Horford (questionable) ends up missing the game, there’s likely some value on the Celtics, especially in that 1.5-2 range the spread currently sits. Check out our new Labs NBA Insiders tool on Sports Insights for update injury info on Horford throughout the day. Bryan Mears

[In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]

Moore: Sooo Many Questions

OK, so I’m in the Bad Place with this game.

The Celtics owned the Sixers for years specifically because Horford and Aron Baynes would just deconstruct Embiid into little tiny Lego parts and then sweep him into a bag and throw him in the dumpster out back.

Except neither of those gentlemen play basketball for the Celtics anymore and their interior defense will be manned by Daniel Theis. The Celtics are stellar defensively, but are 25th in points allowed per possession in the post, which means Embiid should continually drop the hammer here.

So I have to take the Sixers.

Except … Brad Stevens is a dog on the second night of a back-to-back where his teams are 41-18 ATS in his NBA coaching career. While that number drops to just 4-4 when Stevens is a home dog, the Sixers are inconsistent and this is just the type of game they lose inexplicably.

So I have to take the Celtics.

Except … as Ewing notes above, the sharp money is hammering Philly, just pounding away in their favor, moving the Celtics who were initially favorites to dogs.

Except … while Ewing is correct that historically it’s been preferable to take those teams, this season, the sharps are 52-63-2 in such situations.

See my dilemma?

The Celtics are 7-2-1 ATS at home this season, and undefeated straight up, but Gordon Hayward is questionable, Marcus Smart is out and Horford is a game-time decision.

This is a mess. I lean towards Celtics instinctively based on the spot, but the on-court stuff says the Sixers are crazy good value here as a short road favorite. — Matt Moore

[In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]

Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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