With round two of the 2023 NBA playoffs upon us, the Philadelphia 76ers are heading to Boston to face off with the Celtics for games 1 and 2 of their seven-game series. The Sixers already look to be shorthanded in this series with the status of Joel Embiid still up in the air. Game-Time Sharks Philadelphia is here to provide you with the current betting lines and predictions ahead of Game 1 so that you can watch your favorite team while maximizing profits.
Game 1 and Status of Joel Embiid
Start time: 7:30 PM (ET)
Location: TD Garden – Boston, Massachusetts
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As of Saturday, Doc Rivers stated that Joel Embiid is doubtful to play in Game 1. This is not what Sixers fans wanted to hear as it may appear the knee sprain is worse than expected. There is still some hope for all of those believers out there. The term, “Doubtful” means that the player is very unlikely to play, but they have not been ruled out yet.
With the Sixers coming into this matchup as an underdog to begin with, it would be very deflating if Embiid is not able to go. If Embiid does sit, expect Sixers big man, Paul Reed to be inserted into the starting lineup. Filling in for Embiid against the Nets, Reed produced an impressive stat line, scoring 10 points and corralling 15 boards in 31 minutes.
Odds, Lines, and Predictions
BetMGM: It’s Time To Change The Game
Before Doc Rivers provided an update on Embiid’s status, the Celtics were teetering around eight-point favorites. Here is an update on the current lines for Game 1:
Boston Celtics: -10.5 spread (-105), -550 ML
Philadelphia 76ers: +10.5 spread (-115), +400 ML
Total Points: Over 213.5 (-115), Under 213.5 (-105)
The status of Joel Embiid impacts the lines of this contest. If Embiid plays, expect the line to move a point or two in Philadelphia’s favor.
The Sixers tend to play at a faster pace when Joel Embiid is not on the floor. When he is on the court, the Sixers average 114.4 points on 82.2 field goals attempted. In the 16 games he did not play this season, the Sixers averaged 118.4 points per game on 90.2 field goals attempted.
Instead of setting up in the half-court and letting Embiid go to work, the Sixers have to get their points in transition by running the court. This is where the workload falls heavily on the shoulders of James Harden and Tyrese Maxey.
I expect James Harden to run the show and facilitate the offense by driving and dishing a ton. The Celtics have phenomenal perimeter defenders in Smart, Brogdon, Brown, and White as well as one of the best rim protectors in the league in Robert Williams. Therefore, I do not expect many open lanes for Harden, but more opportunities to drive and dish.
James Harden averaged 10.7 assists per game in 58 games played this season. In the four games against the Celtics this season, he averaged 9.0 assists. Harden also played seven games this year where Embiid did not play. In those seven games, he averaged 9.4 assists. If Joel Embiid does not play, I expect the Sixers to play at a faster pace and have more shot opportunities, giving James Harden plenty of chances to create shots for his teammates.
Pick: James Harden over 8.5 assists (-130); 2 Units