NBA Game 1 Preview: Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics

May 1, 2023

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Game: Philadelphia 76ers @ Boston Celtics

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Odds: Sixers +10, Celtics -10

Total: 213.5

When the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics square off in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series on Monday night, all eyes will be on Joel Embiid. During Game 3 of Philadelphia’s first-round series against the Brooklyn Nets, Embiid sprained the LCL in his right knee. He was unable to play when the 76ers won Game 4 to win the series.

Although it’s unclear whether Embiid will play on Monday, Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers suggested that he probably won’t. Embiid is listed as doubtful on the most recent injury report.

During the regular season, Embiid had an NBA-best 33.1 points per game average. In Philadelphia’s four regular-season games against Boston, he had averages of 36.8 points, 11.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.8 blocked shots per game. In three of those four meetings, the Celtics won, but each of those three wins was by a narrow margin.

In Philadelphia’s lone victory over Boston – 103-101 in April – Embiid went off for 52 points. He also added 13 rebounds, six assists, and two blocks. In place of Embiid in Game 4 against Brooklyn, Philadelphia started Paul Reed at center. He scored 10 points, setting a career high, and grabbed 15 rebounds. In the series against the Nets, it was Tyrese Maxey who led Philadelphia in scoring, averaging 21.8 points per game.

Boston, the second-seeded team, advanced after defeating Atlanta in a six-game series in the first round. The Celtics’ top scorers were Jaylen Brown (26.7 ppg) and Tatum (27.2 ppg). They will be the main focus of the Sixers defense.

This best-of-seven series will most likely hinge on Boston’s ability to make three-pointers. The Celtics are 34-2 when they hit at least 40% of their three-point attempts, including the playoffs. They are 27-24 when they don’t hit that mark.

Philadelphia has not advanced past the second round of the playoffs since reaching the NBA Finals in 2001. Boston has won the last five playoff series between the two teams. The most recent was a four-game sweep in the first-round of the 2020 playoffs in the bubble. The two teams have met more than any other NBA teams in the postseason. The Sixers and Celtics have played 21 playoff series against each other. Boston has won 14 of them. The last time Philly beat Boston in the playoffs was in 1982.

The Celtics gave up 122.5 points per game to Atlanta in their first-round series. Without Embiid, Philadelphia might not be able to exploit the Boston defense. James Harden only scored 17.3 points a game against the Hawks and he has only averaged 20.6 points a game when playing without Embiid.

Philadelphia is 1-4 SU and 0-5 ATS in its last five games against Boston. In their last six games overall, they are 6-0 SU and 5-1 ATS. The Celtics are 7-2 SU in their last nine games and 9-1 SU in their last 10 at home. Boston has covered in eight of its last ten games.

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