NBA Game 3 Preview: Boston Celtics at Philadelphia Phillies

May 5, 2023

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Game: Boston Celtics @ Philadelphia 76ers

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Odds: Celtics -2, Sixers +2

Total: 214.5

The Philadelphia 76ers won the first game of their Eastern Conference semifinal series against Boston despite Joel Embiid’s absence, but they did not show up for Game 2 when he returned. Tonight, the Sixers will be hoping for a much better overall performance from the newly crowned NBA MVP.

In the 76ers’ 121-87 Game 2 loss on Wednesday, Embiid, wearing a brace over his sprained right knee, battled rust before finishing with 15 points and five blocks in 27 minutes. It was the first Embiid had played since suffering the injury in Game 3 of the first-round series against the Brooklyn Nets. He missed Game 4 that sealed the series sweep and the opening game of this series, which the 76ers won 119-115 on Monday.

On Wednesday, the 76ers’ three-point shooting was awful. After making 17 attempts from beyond the arc in the first game of the series, they made just 1-of-13 in Game 2’s first half and only 6-of-30 overall.

James Harden finished with 12 points after making only 2-of-14 shots from the field and missing all six of his three-point attempts. That came after Harden scored 45 points in the series opener, making 7-of-14 attempts from beyond the arc.

It seemed like Jaylen Brown had no trouble lining up his shot. He finished the game on Wednesday with 25 points, including 13 of Boston’s first 18 points. Malcolm Brogdon, the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year, led the Celtics with 23 points off the bench, including six three-pointers.

Boston outscored Philadelphia 35-16 in the third quarter to seize the lead in the game on Wednesday. In tying the series, the Celtics made 46.7 percent of their field goal attempts and 39.2 percent of their three-point attempts.

After allowing Philadelphia a win in Game 1 on their home floor, the Celtics wanted to send a message to the Sixers. Limiting their errors was a key component of that message. Following up on their 16 turnovers in Game 1 of the series, the Celtics made just seven in Game 2.

Jayson Tatum had just seven points in 19 minutes and was in foul trouble early in the game. During the regular season, he averaged 30.1 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game. The 30.1 points per game was a career-high.

Boston has now won eight of its last 11 games and has covered the spread in nine of its last 12. The Celtics are 5-2 SU and 6-1 ATS in their last seven games against Philadelphia. The Game 2 loss was Philly’s first in eight games. The 76ers are 6-1-1 ATS in those eight games. Philadelphia has won five of its last six games at home.

The Under has cashed in four of Philadelphia’s last five games. Four of the last five in this series, including Game 2, have gone Under the total. Interestingly, four of the last six Celtics-Sixers games played in Philadelphia have gone Over the total. The last ten games in the series have averaged just 212.9 points per game.

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