Can the Celtics really go 0-for-Philly in the regular season?
To avoid a season sweep at the hands of their long-time rival in the East, they'll have to find a way to stop Joel Embiid and the 76ers tonight at TD Garden. And they'll have to do it without their All-Star point guard and the player with the most experience trying to neutralize the Sixers center.
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Kemba Walker (knee soreness) and Enes Kanter (hip injury) won't play for the Celtics Saturday night as they look to win at least once after dropping their previous three this season against Philly (31-18), which sits in the sixth spot in the East and trails No. 3 Boston (32-15) by two games.
The injuries news dropped the Celtics from 2.5-point favorites to a one-point selection. Here are our betting predictions, as well as two other NBA "locks" against the spread.
(All odds provided by West Gate Superbook.)
Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics, 8:30 p.m., ET
Moneyline: With Kanter guarding him most of the night, Embiid had 38 points and 13 rebounds the last time the Sixers played in Boston in December (he was injured and missed Philly's January home win over the C's). Boston's thin frontcourt of Daniel Theis, Grant Williams, Vincent Poirier and maybe Tacko Fall has Al Horford to contend with inside, too. Looks like the Sixers (-105) get their sweep.
Point Spread: As noted above, the Walker-Kanter injury news dropped the C's to a one-point favorite. The 76ers are just 9-16 on the road but the Celtics injuries are just too much to overcome. A grudging nod to the Sixers (+1) here.
Point Total: These are two of the NBA's best defensive teams. The 76ers (allowing 105.2 points per game) are No. 2 in the NBA, the C's (allowing 105.5) are No. 3. Without Walker, Boston could be offensively challenged. Go with the UNDER on the 212.5 point total.
Pat's record, pinch-hitting for Darren Hartwell, picking Celtics' moneyline, point spread and point total: 8-10 (44% success rate).
NBA Locks of the Night
Atlanta Hawks (+5) at Dallas Mavericks, 8:30 p.m.: The Mavs are without MVP candidate Luka Doncic and are coming off a 128-121 loss at Houston on Friday. They're 3-3-1 against the spread when playing on the second night of a back-to-back. Atlanta is just 5-20 on the road but 8-1 ATS when playing with a rest advantage.
Los Angeles Lakers (-6) at Sacramento Kings, 10 p.m.: The Lakers are coming off an emotional 127-119 home loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night in their first game since the death of Kobe Bryant. Despite playing on the second night of a back-to-back and recent issues winning in Sacramento (L.A. has lost eight of its past 11 there), look for a bounce-back effort from LeBron & Co. over the Kings (18-30 overall, 8-14 at home).
Pat's record, pinch-hitting for Darren Hartwell, picking NBA locks against the spread: 6-6, 50% success rate.
Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of 76ers-Celtics, which begins Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.