76ers vs Celtics series predictions: Don’t doubt Philadelphia
The NBA match up between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics does not look the same as it did in the past. This was one of the most anticipated matchups of the NBA playoffs before the Sixers were decimated by devastating injuries to some of their best players. Before the injuries, it was difficult to make 76ers vs Celtics series predictions, but now everyone assumes that the Celtics will advance and meet the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals.
Breaking down the 2020 NBA Playoff Bracket predictions for every series and your printable brackets!
Philly is focused on the playoffs
The Celtics faced Philadelphia in the 2018 playoffs and were treated to an easy exit, but there is one player that is putting that in the past. Tobias Harris made it very simple when asked about playing Boston. “My thoughts are, let’s win.” That is easier said than done. They will be without Ben Simmons and that means Harris, Joel Embiid, and former Celtic Al Horford will have to step up.
Everyone’s Betting Boston
The top sportsbooks had to put a high price on Boston to win this series. The sports betting public was high on Boston before the injury to Simmons and that number is just getting higher and higher. ESPN’s Basketball Power Index projects Boston with a 72 percent chance to win the series and a 13 percent chance to sweep with only an 11 percent chance for Philly to win in seven games. That is why the sportsbooks have no choice but to make the Celtics a huge favorite in the series and game one. The Celtics may be better coached and they are much deeper, but there are a few things to be concerned about.
In this series size matters
With all due respect to Daniel Theis, Robert Williams, and Enes Kanter, the Celtics have a tough time against bigger physical teams. Good coaching and defensive switches help, but they are going to have a tough time stopping Embiid and Horford. The Sixers won three of the four games against the Celtics this season and Embiid put up 38 points in one affair and Horford put up 17 points in another. The troubles against bigger players have continued in the bubble. Other notable outputs against Boston include Jusuf Nurkic (30 points, nine rebounds, five assists), Bam Adebayo (21 points, 12 rebounds), and Nikola Vucevic (26 points, 11 rebounds). If they advance to the NBA Finals, they better hope the matchup is against some of the smaller teams from the West.
Kemba, inconsistency and more reasons to worry
Kemba Walker is still recovering from a knee injury and head coach Brad Stevens has done a masterful job of “hiding” his issues on defense. This rotation turns into a defensive zone so other teams cannot target Kemba and his injury.
The Celtics aren’t hiding Kemba Walker on a particular player today. But they are kind of hiding him on the weakside corner player. They keep rotating and switching him around, so he’s just kind of always-on whoever that player is.
— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) August 11, 2020
On offense against Memphis, the Celtics looked great, but the C’s have had issues against the Sixers. Boston’s rating on offense when playing the Sixers this season was a low 106.9, dropping to 103.1 in the three losses. The Celtics shot only 43.3 percent overall against Philadelphia a number that has to improve if they want to win this series.
76ers vs Celtics series predictions
With all of that being said, I do believe that the Celtics win this series. However, it is naïve to think this series will be a sweep or to think that this will be an easy round for Boston. The Sixers play well on defense and can do well in the paint opening up shooting lanes for other players. The Sixers playing without Simmons and the documented struggles away from home are the only things keeping Philadelphia from winning this series. Boston will win, but it’s going to be close.