The first of the two Eastern Conference series starts today with the Philadelphia 76ers going up against the Boston Celtics. The Celtics have home court advantage in this one.
The 76ers got here with 4 solid performances against the Miami Heat. They got a good thumping in Game 2 but Joel Embiid returned and helped give them the momentum which they used to get back on track and take it in 5.
The Boston Celtics got here in a hard battle against the Milwaukee Bucks which went all 7 games. The Celtics did the business at home but they just couldn’t handle Giannis or the Bucks on the road and that’s a big concern for the Celtics as they go into this one.
Here’s our thoughts:
Vin: The two Eastern Conference playoff series that start this week are likely to be the two best series of the second round. I could see either of them going seven games and that is especially true of this series between the Sixers and Celtics.
Everyone is very quick to crown the Sixers as the new great team in the Eastern Conference, but I have some questions. The Heat were a veteran team with strong defense, but the Celtics were the best defensive team in the regular season and are a completely different challenge for them. Jayson Tatum, Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown all broke out in major ways and I expect them to push their play up a level in this next round. They can match Philly in three-pointers in a way Miami couldn’t.
Philly is great, but how much of that is the great match-up of the Heat and how much of that is real? This team was a bit too excited about winning a first round series and maybe don’t have their eyes on the prize here. Brad Stevens is one of the best coaches in basketball and he will have a new look to throw at Ben Simmons. As great as he played, he still can’t shoot and the Celtics were able to limit another player who can’t shoot in Giannis Antetokounmpo in the last round.
Joel Embiid is the big question mark here. If he can raise his play and dominate this series, there is nothing that will stop Philly in this one. Much like Giannis in the last round, he is the best player in this series and they should win based on him and him alone.
That said, Giannis lost. The Celtics were an outstanding home team in round one as they won all four of their games there. I’m not ready to believe they’ll lose at home until I see it. The NBA Playoffs are about home court advantage so, despite everything, I’m taking the home team here. The Celtics won three of four regular season match-ups and I see the Celtics winning this series 50% of the time which Celtics +285 makes a good value play.
Graeme: I don’t think the Celtics are getting enough credit for what they did with the Bucks.
The Bucks are a tricky tricky team an Giannis is an excellent player. The Celtics did well to get here.
The Celtics have overcame adversity this season losing both Irving and Hayward and yet have powered on. Philly did play well but look at the way they collapsed in Game 2 against the Heat. If Embiid hadn’t cameb ack? Man who knows what would have happened there.
It wasn’t just his skill level that helped it was just having him back in general that was a big deal for them. The 76ers have a hell of a lot of depth to them.
However when I look at it from a game by game basis, I see the 76ers winning tonight. I mean they’re rested and this is the sort of team where those days off help as they will study the game tape and will be hungry. So I think it’s really a case of if the 76ers win tonight, they gain the edge and thus they win the series.
Brown is most likely not playing and even if he is, he won’t be in good shape I expect.
I think Game is crucial so my bet is based on whether Brown plays or not.
If Brown plays tonight, take the Celtics to win the series at +285. If Brown does not, take 76ers to win the game AND the series for +183.
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