Celtics vs 76ers Game 2 Predictions: Boston Bounceback Incoming?

Written by: Tanner Kern
Published May 3, 2023
7 min read
  • The 76ers won Game 1 without Joel Embiid 
  • Jayson Tatum had 39 points in the loss
  • James Harden had 45 points on 17/30 shooting

The Philadelphia 76ers have made their mark early in the Eastern Conference semifinal, taking down the Celtics in Game 1. As impressive as the win was for Philadelphia, Boston handed the game over and didn’t play an ounce of defense throughout the contest. We expect a totally different intensity from Boston in the backcourt in Game 2, as this has been their identity all season. Despite being down 0-1, the Celtics are still a double-digit favorite in Game 2. This shows how little bookmakers value the 76ers ability. Let’s break down the game and the best bets for the action.

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Celtics vs 76ers Odds

Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook

+10 (-110)
Over 216.4 (-110)
-10 (-110)
Under 216.5 (-110)
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Celtics vs 76ers Predictions

Celtics vs 76ers Preview

Even though the Celtics lost Game 1, they’re a larger favorite in Game 2. The Celtics are laying 10.5 points in Game 2, which is a lot for any team to cover in the playoffs. However, Boston has shown a common pattern throughout the year. They tend to always play well on offense, but defense is sparring. After James Harden’s 45-point performance, it was clear that the Celtics didn’t want to play any defense in the series opener. It’s common to see Boston respond with a vengeance in the backcourt.

Joe Mazzulla hasn’t done a great job making in-game adjustments, but the coach does a nice job with time. We expect the Celtics to play with a different level of energy in Game 2. When Boston is playing their best basketball, they’re leaps and bounds better than the Sixers. 

Joel Embiid was named the NBA MVP on Tuesday night, but he’ll still be watching from the bench. Embiid is currently listed as questionable, but the Sixers don’t want to rush him back early from his knee injury, especially after stealing Game 1. There have been reports that Embiid has torn ligaments in his knee, but nothing has been solidified. However, his status doesn’t look promising for Game 2 or the proceeding matchups in the series. 

The Sixers beat the Celtics because of Boston’s lackluster defense and the fact that Harden was exceptional. Harden made every shot in sight, including the game-winning step-back three-pointer. As great as Harden was, he looked tired, and we don’t expect to see this performance in Game 2. Many people were comparing Harden’s dominance to Jimmy Butler’s play when the Bucks beat the Heat. Nevertheless, they’re totally different, as Butler has the stamina to post back-to-back record nights. Harden isn’t at a point in his career where this is likely. 

Philadelphia should be competitive, but the result will likely be different, especially if the Celtics are solid on defense. When Boston wants to play, they’re the best team in the postseason. The “want” isn’t a 100% occurrence with Boston, but Mazzulla’s squad has been known for consistent rebounds following tough losses. 

Boston Celtics Preview

Jayson Tatum was very good in Game 1 of the series but wasn’t great in the fourth quarter. Tatum dropped 39 points, but most of this scoring came in the first three quarters. The forward was quiet down the stretch, and he only scored by getting to the foul line. When Tatum is locked in, he doesn’t usually miss. Although, the odds of Tatum being exceptional for four quarters is a rare occurrence. 

The Celtics operate so well because Jaylen Brown is there to fill the void when Tatum goes cold. Brown is a certified star and could be the guy for most NBA teams, but he is second to Tatum. Brown looked paralyzed in Game 1 of the series. When he shot the ball, he was efficient, scoring 23 points and shooting 80% from the field. Brown was efficient, but he passed up wide-open looks down the stretch and chose to dish the ball to Tatum. 

For the Celtics to match their offensive intensity from Game 1, Brown needs to go on the attack. Tatum should be good once again, but he isn’t dropping close to 40 points nightly. Brown will have to fill some of the void left from the last performance. If Tatum and Brown deliver, it opens the door for one of the best benches in the NBA to contribute. Malcolm Brogdon, the sixth man of the year was fantastic in Game 1, and we see him making plays once again. Yet, it all starts with Tatum and Brown doing their job from the opening tip. 

Philadelphia 76ers Preview

Harden was the story coming out of Game 1. The guard has done a lot throughout his time in the NBA, but he arguably had the greatest performance of his career against Boston. The 76ers are a talented team, but they were missing the league MVP in Embiid. Harden put the entire team on his back and dropped 40+, including the game-winning shot. 

Harden is always a valid scoring option, but it’s a big ask to think he’s dropping 45 points in Game 2. For the Sixers to be competitive, they’ll need another big night from their bench. DeAnthony Melton dropped 17 points off the bench, which we’re not used to seeing.

Many things went perfectly for the Sixers in Game 1, and the success shouldn’t recur without Embiid. Harden will be good, and he’ll be supported by Tyrese Maxey, but we expect to see a different Celtics team as they look to protect their home court in Game 2. 

Celtics vs 76ers Pick

Boston should be angry because they shot just under 60% from the field as a team and are 0-1 in the Eastern Conference semifinals. This should never happen, and there is no excuse for Boston’s poor defensive play in Game 1. 

Mazzulla’s team will come out with a different intensity and Tatum will hopefully push close to 40 points once again. If this happens, the Celtics should blow the Sixers’ doors off at home before play transitions to Philadelphia. 

  • PICK: Celticds (-110)
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How to Watch Celtics vs 76ers

  • Location: TD Garden, Boston, MA
  • Game Time & Date: MAY 3 @ 7:30 p.m ET
  • Channel: TNT
  • Streaming: TNT App
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Image for Tanner Kern

Tanner Kern

Sports Betting Analyst & On-Air Host

Online Sports Betting
Tanner Kern has been working in the betting industry since 2020. He currently is a social media content creator at DraftKings and contributes to multiple sites in addition to WSN, including Forbes and VSiN. He is also the cohost of the podcast Ride the Line at WSN.
Nationality: American
Education: M.S in Sports Journalism
Favourite Sportsbook: Fanatics Sportsbook
Favourite Casino: Caesars Palace
4 years
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