The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers will renew their rivalry with a first-round series in the 2020 NBA playoffs, and the C's already are massive betting favorites to advance.
The Celtics went 5-3 in the seeding games and played really well overall, highlighted by a dominant win over the second-place Toronto Raptors. Boston also has a healthy roster entering the postseason with several of its best players performing at a very high level, most notably Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of the Celtics-76ers first-round playoff series. You can also stream all games on the MyTeams App.
The seeding games haven't gone well for the Sixers. They have a 3-4 seeding game record entering Friday's finale versus the Raptors, and All-Star point guard Ben Simmons recently left the league's bubble to undergo knee surgery. Simmons reportedly is expected to miss the remainder of the season, and without him, the Sixers are losing an elite player at both ends of the court. He averaged 18.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists in four games against the Celtics during the regular season, and Philadelphia won three of those matchups.
Sixers superstar center Joel Embiid picked up an ankle injury last Sunday and missed Tuesday's game before returning to Philly's lineup Wednesday night.
Oddsmakers are pretty confident the Celtics will win their fifth straight playoff series versus the Sixers. Here are the latest betting lines for this Round 1 matchup, courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.
Celtics to win series: -375
76ers to win series: +270
ESPN’s Basketball Power Index also likes the Celtics to advance, giving Boston a 72 percent chance of eliminating the Sixers. In fairness to the 76ers, they do still have a talented team without Simmons. Embiid is one of the league's best centers, Tobais Harris can score 20-plus points any night and Al Horford does a little bit of everything.
That said, the Celtics absolutely should beat the shorthanded Sixers in Round 1. Boston has more shooting, a deeper roster, much better coaching and is playing better in the bubble than its longtime rival.