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NBA Odds & Predictions: Matt Moore’s Expert Betting Picks for 76ers vs Celtics Game 7 (May 14)

NBA Odds & Predictions: Matt Moore’s Expert Betting Picks for 76ers vs Celtics Game 7 (May 14) article feature image

Pictured: Jayson Tatum drives to the basket. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

  • History isn't on the side of the Philadelphia 76ers in their Game 7 matchup against the Boston Celtics Sunday.
  • Matt Moore has multiple betting predictions for Thursday's matchup, including the spread and total.
  • Check out his picks for 76ers vs. Celtics Game 7.

Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics

3:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Celtics -6.5 | Total: 201


History is not on the 76ers’ side
Boston has stopped playing dumb against Joel Embiid
Can Jayson Tatum get redemption?


The Sixers are going to need to break a lot of history to win this game.

Home teams in Game 7 are 42-18 SU and 32-28 ATS (53%) since 2003. They’re also 20-11 SU and 13-18 ATS since 2013.

Doc Rivers is 6-9 in Game 7’s.

Joel Embiid is 0-2.

James Harden is 3-2.

Embiid is also 1-6 in the playoffs in Boston. Game 5 is the first game he has ever won in the playoffs in Boston. He’s 5-13 all-time in Boston.

The one trend that I think matters most is that teams that were up 3-2 and lost Game 6 at home are 9-17 since 2013 (11-15, 43.3% ATS).

Once a team loses the opportunity to close out at home, most don’t get it back. It should be noted that teams in this spot have won 5 of the past 7.

Road teams struggle because Game 7 is so often a tight, ugly game that comes down to who hits shots. Home teams hit shots. It’s not that simple, but it’s been a clear trend.

That has shifted over the past few years. Over the past five years, home teams in Game 7 are just 8-10 and 4-14 ATS (!!!). Take out the bubble season, and it’s still just 4-6 and 2-8 ATS.

The Sixers have never made the conference finals in the “Trust the Process” era. They have always come up short, and often in these Game 7’s. They have to break that narrative.

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The Celtics lost their minds in Game 5. I have no idea what they were doing, especially in pick-and-roll coverage. The Celtics are known to screw around, which is a reason I gave out Sixers +2.5 on the series spread line on our series preview Buckets Podcast. I knew Boston would give Philadelphia two games, though I didn’t expect the Celtics to give the Sixers a Game 5 in Boston.

To be clear, the Sixers deserve credit for playing with force and purpose and stepping up in the biggest game.

But look at this coverage on an Embiid in pick and roll:

That is disgraceful in terms of covering the pick and roll. The Celtics were letting Embiid get to his spots way too easy. He lives in that mid-range area.

Now, watch how they defended it in Game 6. Smart steps in and creates a turnover:

Embiid gets to it, but this is tougher.

Here, the Celtics take everything away from Embiid and dare the other shooters to burn them.

Embiid complained about not getting the ball after Game 6. The biggest reason was the Celtics ran coverage to deny him.

An adjustment would be to have Embiid roll to the post out of the pick and roll. The problem with that is Boston is very good about rotating into doubles, and Embiid’s turnover rate vs. doubles is high. It’s lower than it’s been in the past three seasons, but — especially out of the pick and roll with Harden — it’s not a natural action.

The Celtics also aren’t switching much. They switch when Embiid looks to pop for 3 and they play a high hedge-and-recover or bring another player to “tag” him on the roll.

The way to break this is for the role players to make shots. Dare PJ Tucker, De’Anthony Melton and whoever the non-Tobias-Harris or Tyrese Maxey shooter is. That fifth guy has to make those corner 3’s to force Boston to respect it. That’s the only way to loosen up Embiid’s spacing without him just going into full isolation.


Jayson Tatum was about to be roasted all summer for his performance in Game 6, but he came through late, hit huge shots and delivered a Game 7 for Boston.

Has he turned the corner? Is he still struggling? Tatum’s overall shooting numbers — especially his crunch time efficiency — have struggled since All-Star Break. Whether it’s the wrist injury he’s struggled with over the past year or simple fatigue, he’s been inconsistent.

If he struggles, Boston can win behind Jaylen Brown and role players hitting 3’s, but the margin is much more narrow.

Tatum is 2-1 in home Game 7’s in his career and 2-0 when LeBron James isn’t on the other side. He’s 3-2 in home elimination games.

But he’s going to have to hit shots in the biggest game of the season if the Celtics are going to get back to the conference finals.

THE BETS: Celtics -6.5 and Under 201

Unders in Game 7’s are 36-24 (60%) since 2003 and 10-1 since 2017, not including the Bubble. These games are always rock fights. This is a square, obvious play against a ridiculously low number. But I’m backing the history of it, especially with how these teams are feast or famine when it comes to 3-point barrages.

This number is dumb.

It’s been dumb.

In every game in this series, the Celtics have been heavily juiced by oddsmakers. This line, under no circumstances, should be power-rated above five between these teams. We’re in a Game 7, for God’s sake. They are inherently close.

And yet, here’s the problem. Since 2003, when a team is favored by more than five points at home in a Game 7, they are 32-7 straight up, 24-15 (61.5%) ATS. They cover more often when favored by more.

(Again, in the past five years, this has flipped — 3-3 straight up, 1-5 ATS when favored by five or more. I’m trusting the larger sample. One more caveat: one of those six games in the past five years — not in the Bubble — was the Raptors’ Game 7 win against … the 76ers, which ended on Kawhi Leonard’s four-bouncer. I’d love to just bet a moneyline here, but the number isn’t right and I’m not laying that juice.)

I think Boston is the better team. I think the Sixers are good, but I think the Celtics are better and at home. Shooting variance leans Boston’s way. Their losses in this series are heavily influenced by how they’ve played and not how the Sixers have adapted. Trusting the Celtics is dangerous, but I’m willing to do it.

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