Can the Philadelphia 76ers cover as small underdogs against the Boston Celtics?
The 2022-2023 NBA Season kicks off tonight with two powerhouses of the Eastern Conference. This is a series that the Philadelphia 76ers have dominated in recent meetings. Since the 2019-2020 season, the Philadelphia 76ers are 8-3 against the Boston Celtics. Currently, at Fanduel, the Celtics are 3-point favorites over Philadelphia with a total of 216. Can the Philadelphia 76ers cover a small number on the road against one of the best teams in the NBA? Let me break it all down and tell you why I think Philadelphia will not only cover but win this game.
🏀 𝗡𝗕𝗔 𝗢𝗣𝗘𝗡𝗜𝗡𝗚 𝗡𝗜𝗚𝗛𝗧 🏀
— FanDuel Sportsbook (@FDSportsbook) October 18, 2022
This number opened up with the Boston Celtics being a bigger favorite in the off-season. Since then, a lot has happened within the Celtics organization, none of it being positive. This added to the fact that there are people like myself who have the Philadelphia 76ers’ power rated slightly higher than the Boston Celtics. There are a lot of questions surrounding this Celtics team and how they will perform without their head coach Ime Udoka. Stepping in for him is assistant Joe Mazzulla who is an unknown when it comes to coaching at this level. The pressure will be on him from the tip-off on how he manages this caliber of a team.
There is no doubt that the Boston Celtics have upgraded their team by adding Malcolm Brogdon. He is a 50/40/90 player that can help with initiating offense and taking some of the ball handling away from Tatum and Brown. Philadelphia also upgraded to an even higher level with the additions of PJ Tucker, De’Anthony Melton, and Montrezl Harrell.
The depth of this Philadelphia team is something they lacked last season and it will be on full display tonight against the league’s best defensive team from a season ago. The addition of PJ Tucker is huge from a defensive standpoint, which is something the Philadelphia 76ers will need in a stacked Eastern Conference.
From a matchup perspective in this game, I think all signs point to the Philadelphia 76ers being able to dominate the interior. The Celtics will be missing their defensive anchor and man in the middle Robert Williams. He is out due to a knee procedure he had in the off-season and will not return until later in the season. This is a massive loss for a team who doesn’t have the necessary size to be able to contain Joel Embiid in the paint.
Aside from the Philadelphia 76ers being able to dominate inside, I think they have the players to be able to match up well with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. While the coaching has changed, the players to stop has not. The Boston Celtics will still rely heavily on their best two players. Life for those players will be easier with the addition of Malcolm Brogden. He allows the Celtics to use Tatum and Brown more off-ball.
Throwing multiple defenders and giving both Tatum and Brown different looks defensively is something that Philadelphia can do with their depth. Shutting both guys down is not going to happen with just one defender. It is going to take a team effort to be able to slow them down but I think Philadelphia has what it takes to get the job done. PJ Tucker is likely to get the Jayson Tatum assignment and look to make him uncomfortable all night long.
The emergence of Tyrese Maxey for the Philadelphia 76ers is something we got to watch last season as he arguably became the 2nd most important player on this roster. In a way, this takes some of the pressure off of Harden and allows him to play a more traditional point guard role which he has thrived in since arriving in the NBA. He still needs to be better defensively but when you have an anchor like Embiid behind you, he can cover up a lot of the lapses from the backcourt.
James Harden stated at media day that he is down 100 pounds and is as healthy as he’s been in a long time. Well if that is the case, this team is due for a big season. Since his arrival in Philadelphia, Harden has often seemed plagued by injuries and not being in shape. If he is indeed healthy and able to regain his burst offensively, look out! He also will benefit from Melton and Maxey initiating offense where he can be more of a spot-up shooter in certain lineups.
James Harden says that he lost 100 pounds this offseason 😳 pic.twitter.com/1GnEEAvJeU
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 26, 2022
As you all can tell, I am extremely high on this Philadelphia 76ers team in this matchup as well as for the entire season. They can win in numerous ways with the skill set they have up and down the roster. I think that gets put on full display tonight in a matchup they have dominated in recent years. This is not in any way to downplay the Celtics and how good they are, but without Williams, I think Philadelphia is a better team.
If you are looking to wager on tonights’ game, I highly recommend taking the Philadelphia 76ers +3.5 against the Boston Celtics. Matchup favors Philadelphia as I highlighted earlier, and I did not even mention Tobias Harris, who is the 4thoption. Harris averaged 17 points per game last season and is somewhat of an afterthought. That should show you how loaded this Philadelphia 76ers roster is. Look for Philadelphia to cover the short number and win outright behind a dominant 25-point 13 rebound performance from Joel Embiid.
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