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Celtics Getting 2.5 Points in Philly With Driver’s Seat in Atlantic Division on the Line

Sam Cox

by Sam Cox in NBA Basketball

Jan 9, 2020 · 6:42 AM PST

Wells Fargo Center
The Celtics and Sixers meet in a key Atlantic division clash on Thursday night. Photo by dphilmore (Wiki Commons)
  • Joel Embiid misses out for Philadelphia after suffering gruesome finger injury
  • Both teams on second nights of back-to-backs
  • Get the odds, our pick, and all the info you need to bet the game below

The Boston Celtics head to Philadelphia to face the 76ers at Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night.

The latest Boston Celtics vs Philadelphia 76ers odds favor the Sixers narrowly despite Joel Embiid’s absence – the Cameroonian All-NBA center dislocated his finger in the Sixers’ win over the Thunder on Monday and will see a specialist.

Boston’s point guard Kemba Walker missed three games with the flu, but he returned for Wednesday’s clash with the Spurs. Walker was ejected from the game after arguing a hard screen from LaMarcus Aldridge, after he played just 18 minutes.

Boston Celtics vs Philadelphia 76ers Odds

Team Spread Moneyline Over/Under
Boston Celtics +2.5 (-110) +120 Over 215 (-110)
Philadelphia 76ers -2.5 (-110) -140 Under 215 (-110)

Odds taken Jan. 9th

Embiid Factor

Embiid has faced criticism at times this year. His absence for Thursday’s clash with Boston changes the game, however, and gives a massive boost to the Celts. Embiid has had his troubles against Boston in the past, but with Al Horford on the Sixers and Aron Baynes in Arizona, the Celtics have lost the two players that troubled Embiid previously.

Interior defense is the main weakness on this Boston roster, and Embiid took full advantage of that when the teams last met.

Philly won by six points on December 12th and outscored Boston by nine in the second half thanks to a monster night from Embiid. He went to the line 14 times, grabbed 13 boards and scored 38 points – the Celtics had no answer. Most significantly, Embiid dealt with their double teams better than he has before, registering six assists.

The Sixers’ offense has been one of the NBA’s main talking points this season. Brett Brown’s team will play a different, much faster, game without Embiid on the floor. There are benefits to his absence – particularly for Ben Simmons – but there’s no doubt that Brad Stevens will be pleased to see him sitting out.

Celtics’ Offensive Slump

After winning eight of nine, the Celtics have lost two in a row. Their defense has remained elite, but their offensive rating over the last five games is 24th in the NBA. Over that span, they are turning the ball over on 15.5% of possessions, an increase from their 13.7% mark in November and 10.7% in October.

Jayson Tatum has endured some rough nights of late, shooting 5-for-18 against the Raptors on Christmas Day, 2-for-16 against Atlanta and 8-for-20 in Wednesday’s loss to San Antonio. Marcus Smart has been cold – he’s only hit 15 of his 55 shots since returning from injury.

Philadelphia’s defense hasn’t lived up to its reputation in recent weeks. Their defensive rating is only 19th-best in the NBA over the last 10 games. Without Embiid defending the paint and forcing opponents into jump shots, the Sixers’ defense is more vulnerable, though rookie Matisse Thybulle will provide a boost on the perimeter defensively.

Boston’s Game

Horford’s arrival was meant to help the Sixers in games like this. The former Celtic will start at center on Thursday, but it doesn’t make up for Embiid’s absence. Philadelphia are just +0.3 without Embiid on the court. The Tobias Harris, Horford, Simmons, Josh Richardson and Furkan Korkmaz lineup has been outscored by 11.2 points per 100 possessions – albeit in under 58 minutes.

Few players in the league are analyzed as much as Simmons – this is a night where the Sixers need him to be at his best on both ends of the floor. If he’s short of spectacular, this is Boston’s game to win as their offensive troubles will be eased by Walker’s return and their defense has the athleticism and length to trouble Simmons in transition.

Pick: Boston Celtics +2 (-110)

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