Celtics vs. 76ers Odds & Picks: Back Joel Embiid & Co. Tuesday Night
Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Joel Embiid.
- The 76ers go for a season sweep of the Celtics on Tuesday night in Boston.
- Joel Embiid dominated Boston in these teams' first two matchups and just returned to the lineup.
- NBA betting analyst Roberto Arguello breaks down the matchup and explains why he's backing Philly.
Celtics vs. 76ers Odds
|Moneyline||-115 / -105|
|Time||Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Monday and via PointsBet|
The Celtics host the 76ers in the third and final meeting of the season between these teams. Philadelphia swept two consecutive games against the Celtics on Jan. 20 and 22 as Joel Embiid scored 42 and 38 points in the two wins. Embiid missed Sunday’s game after making his return from a knee injury the previous night, and he's expected to face Boston.
The 76ers won in Embiid’s return to action on Saturday, 122-113 over the Timberwolves, but they lost on Sunday, 116-100 to the Grizzlies, without him. The Celtics are coming off of a dominant 116-86 blowout victory over the Hornets on Sunday.
If the 76ers win and cover as short road favorites in Boston, they will need another big game from Embiid and for Ben Simmons to step up. Tyrese Maxey (health and safety protocols) missed Sunday’s game, and his status for Tuesday is unclear. George Hill (thumb) remains out.
Embiid has dominated the Celtics this season, and he will need to have an efficient performance as the focal point of the 76ers offense. He should have a tougher challenge offensively with Robert Williams III playing a bigger role for Boston now than he was in the previous matchups. Williams is bigger and more athletic than other Celtics bigs, but Embiid is still bigger than him and is unstoppable when he is healthy. In the two previous games against the Celtics, he scored 150.0 and a season-high 181.0 points per 100 shots.
Without Embiid, Tobias Harris stepped up for the 76ers as an efficient three-level scorer. He is shooting well-above-average percentages at the rim (66%), in the midrange (51%) and from beyond the arc (41%). Harris' 123.4 points per 100 shot attempts rank in the 86th percentile among forwards,, and his career-high 17.4% assist percentage ranks in the 86th percentile, according to Cleaning The Glass.
While Harris has played great lately, Simmons has struggled offensively since the All-Star game. He is scoring fewer points and shooting a surprisingly low 48.8% at the rim and 45.5% from the field. If Simmons can regain his normal form with Embiid back while playing elite defense on the Celtics’ wings, the 76ers should have a great chance of sweeping the season series.
If the Celtics win as home underdogs, they will need Kemba Walker at his best and Williams to step up against Embiid.
While Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are averaging the most points and assists of their careers, the Celtics are just 25-25 this season and are in eighth place in the Eastern Conference. Boston has gotten impressive numbers from its star wings' impressive length, athleticism and shooting, but the duo's stats haven’t translated to enough wins because they haven’t made the players around them better.
The Celtics will need their point guards Walker and Marcus Smart to play well to elevate the play of role players for them to get more victories. Walker is not only valuable as a scorer, but he also puts pressure on the defense by forcing them to stretch the floor and makes reads off the defense to give his teammates like Williams quality looks that they cannot otherwise get for themselves.
The Celtics’ bench has gotten exposed without Gordon Hayward this season, and they need their point guards to help players not named Evan Fournier get quality looks.
Robert Williams as a starter ☘️
28 mins per game (5 Gs)
11.8 PPG (73% FG / 79% FT)
10.0 RPG (3.8 OREB)
— The Celtics Journal 🍀 (@CelticsJournal) April 5, 2021
Williams will be an important player for the Celtics on Tuesday night given Embiid's dominance against them this season. Time Lord will need to step up defensively and avoid foul trouble with the Celtics having traded Daniel Theis and Tristan Thomspon out due to health and safety protocols. The Celtics have three other bigs available, but Moritz Wagner, Tacko Fall and Luke Kornet are all liabilities.
Williams has played his best basketball since being inserted into the starting lineup five games ago. In that span, he is averaging 11.8 points, 10.0 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 2.6 blocks and 1.4 steals per game. His emergence gives the Celtics their first big man who can hurt other teams on short rolls with his passing since Al Horford. Williams has dished out 23 assists to just three turnovers in the last five games.
With MVP candidate Embiid back, the value is on the 76ers as short road favorites.
Despite Embiid only playing four games since the beginning of March, the 76ers' defense leads the NBA over that span with a 105.1 defensive rating excluding garbage time, according to Cleaning The Glass and the best spread differential, having covered by an average of 6.7 points per game.
Conversely, the Celtics’ defense has struggled since then. They rank just 22nd in defensive rating (114.2), although their offense has ranked third in efficiency over that span.
The 76ers’ defense and Embiid’s presence against a shorthanded Celtics frontcourt will be the difference as the 76ers sweep the Celtics in the regular season after being swept out of the first round of the playoffs in the bubble last season. Take the 76ers as one-point favorites with value up to -2.5.
Pick: 76ers -1 (up to -2.5)