PHILADELPHIA 76ERS AT BOSTON CELTICS (-2.5, 214.5)
The Sixers have won all three meetings over the Celtics as they look for a clean sweep of the season series. Philadelphia is trying to bounce back from a 127-117 road loss to the Hawks on Thursday where they could not stop Trae Young, who scored 39 points and dished 18 assists
Boston has won five of its last six games after a 119-104 home win over the Warriors on Thursday. Gordon Hayward dropped 25 points and grabbed eight boards. Kemba Walker scored 13 points with five assists but is questionable to suit up against Philly with a sore left knee.
Philadelphia has been dominant in the first quarter this season going 29-20 ATS including a 15-10 mark on the road. Meanwhile, Boston is ranked 22nd in the NBA this season scoring just 26.4 points per game in the opening stanza. The Sixers start fast.
Pick: First Quarter Sixers
Shake Milton scored a career-high 27 points with five triples against the Hawks. Milton has scored double-figures in back-to-back games for the first time in his career after an 11-point effort against the Warriors.
Boston outscored Golden State 60-50 in the first half on Thursday as Jayson Tatum dropped 20 points in his first game since the tragic death of Kobe Bryant. Tatum had missed the last three games with a groin injury but was selected to the All-Star team for the first time in his career earlier this week.
The Sixers have been stellar against the number in the first quarter this season, but their record drops to 22-27 ATS overall in the first half and 10-15 on the road. The pace will slow down in the second quarter as both teams are battling injuries and are dealing with a thin rotation.
Pick: First Half Under
Joel Embiid dropped 38 points and snatched 13 boards in his first visit to TD Garden earlier this season, a 115-109 Sixers win. Embiid is averaging 22.5 points on 63 percent shooting with 12 boards since returning from a dislocated finger earlier in the week.
Embiid joined Ben Simmons as NBA All-Star selections, becoming the first 76er teammates to be named All-Stars in consecutive seasons since Maurice Cheeks and Charles Barkley in 1987 and 1988.
The big man is well-rested after missing nine games with the left finger injury and has dominated Boston throughout his career. Expect Embiid to have another big night, especially if Celtics center Enes Kanter (hip) is sidelined. Kanter is officially listed as questionable.
Pick: Joel Embiid Over 37.5 Points and Rebounds
The 76ers held the Celtics to just 98 points in the last meeting between these two back on Jan. 9. Philadelphia outscored Boston 61-43 in the second half despite Embiid not being in the lineup. The Celtics have been clamping down defensively of late with five straight games going Under the total.
Expect a tightly contested divisional matchup as these two teams square off for the fourth time this season. The Sixers and Celtics are ranked second and third in the league, respectively, both allowing just over 105 points per game.
Pick: Under 214.5
Philadelphia has owned this series of late winning four straight over Boston dating back to the 2018-19 season. The Celtics are enjoying one of their best weeks of the season after a 109-101 road victory over the Heat earlier this week, handing Miami just its third home loss.
Al Horford did not play for the Sixers on Thursday against the Warriors because of an injured knee. Horford is expected to suit up against his former team on Saturday. Josh Richardson scored 29 points in the win over Boston earlier this month but will not play this time around because of an injured left hamstring.
This rivalry runs deep and Saturday’s game is vital for playoff positioning as both teams are still looking up at the Raptors for first place in the Atlantic Division. The Celtics enter with momentum but Philly just seems to have Boston’s number in this matchup. Embiid and Simmons prevail once again.
Pick: Sixers +2.5