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The Philadelphia 76ers couldn’t have asked for a better road trip to Boston. They were blown out in Game 2, but managed to steal the opener without Joel Embiid on the floor. The Celtics shot 60% from the field in this matchup, and Philadelphia overcame the offensive onslaught for a victory. This win was primarily thanks to James Harden, who dropped 45 points and took over the contest in the fourth quarter. The series is transitioning to Philadelphia, where Boston has been historically bad. However, the Celtics are still road favorites and looking to go up 2-1 in the series. Let’s get into the best ways to make money on the action.
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The Celtics have shown an ability to respond all season, and it was no different in Game 2 of this series. After a pitiful loss in Game 1, where they handed the Sixers a win, Boston came out with a different level of intensity in the backcourt. Defensive intensity in the backcourt is critical in the playoffs, and the Celtics have the team to torment opponents. Yet, they have a bad quality where they pick and choose when they want to play basketball. It seemed like the series opener was a wake-up call for Boston, but we will see how they play in Philadelphia. Boston is 6-1 ATS in their past seven games against the 76ers, and they have a great chance of adding another win with the slim spread.
The 76ers stole Game 1, and they should thank Boston. Even though they won, it wasn’t a game plan that’s sustainable moving forward. James Harden isn’t known for shining in the playoffs, but he did at TD Garden a few nights ago. The guard dropped 45, including a game-winning step-back three-pointer to ice Boston’s chance of winning.
Harden followed this up with a stinker from the field, going 2-14 and not making a single three-pointer. He was -21 in the +/-, and for the Sixers to have a chance, this can’t happen for Harden. When the Celtics decide to play basketball, they’re clearly the better team. It doesn’t matter what lineup Philadelphia rolls onto the floor.
The Celtics will need more consistency from Tatum entering a hostile Miami environment. He went cold in the fourth quarter of Game 1, which carried into Game 2. He is known for bouncing back, but we’ll believe it when we see it in Game 3. Look for Tatum to lead the charge and for the Celtics not to be affected by the road floor.
Whenever Tatum has a poor night from the field, they get production from Jaylen Brown. The Celtics are so good because they have so many resources on the team. Brown is a certified star, that could be the featured player in a major market. Even though he’s second to Tatum in Boston, his numbers have still been fantastic.
In the postseason, he has averaged 26 points and five rebounds per game. Tatum has been in the same area for points, but he has played a bigger role in the rebound and assist game. These two receive most of the credit, but Boston has strength in numbers. The bench has been so good for the Celtics all season, and it was evident in Game 2 of the series.
Six of Boston’s eight players who came off the bench scored. Malcolm Brogdon, the sixth man of the year, had 23 points and six rebounds. Grant Williams was also solid, shooting 50% from three and ending with 12 points. If the Celtics can find the same bench strength in Miami, they could return to TD Garden up 3-1. However, it all starts with Tatum and Brown scoring to set up these bench players with open looks on the perimeter.
Harden was nonexistent in Game 2. He was so bad that it made it hard to believe he was capable of 45 points in Game 1. The Celtics punched the Sixers in the mouth in Game 2 and didn’t know how to respond. Doc Rivers is an experienced coach, so look for him to make some critical adjustments to put the Sixers in the best position possible.
The X-Factor in this series for the 76ers is Joel Embiid. Embiid was named MVP on Tuesday night, but he didn’t play like one in Game 2. He had 15 points and was -23 in the +/-. The center did have five blocks early in the game, but the Celtics are deadly from the perimeter, so it really didn’t matter.
Embiid must continue being good on defense, but he needs to move more down low. The Celtics don’t have many players to contain Embiid. It requires multiple players to float to the paint, which sets Harden up for threes. The strategy is relatively simple on paper but hard to execute against the Celtics.
Boston has momentum and established they’re the authority in this series. Philadelphia is not an easy place to play, so look for early struggles. However, the crowd can’t sway us away from playing Boston in this spot.
The Celtics were close to a double-digit favorite in the series' first two games. They covered the second game with ease, and they’re only laying two points on the road. This will definitely move more towards Boston as we approach the opening tip. Lay the points with the Celtics at a great number.
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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.More info on Tanner Kern
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