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The Philadelphia 76ers have the opportunity to shock the world on Thursday and end the Boston Celtics season. After prevailing 115-103 in Game 5, Philadelphia leads the series 3-2 and is one win away from advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals. Boston has looked out of sorts in all their losses, and Doc Rivers has consistently outcoached Joe Mazzulla. This isn’t something Celtics bettors want to see heading into an elimination game, but Boston has been great at answering throughout the series. They've answered when their backs have been against the wall, but Game 6 will be their toughest challenge of the season. Let’s break down the best ways to make money on the action.
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The Celtics were expected to dominate the 76ers in Game 5. The Celtics lost a heartbreaker on the road to even the series in Game 4, and returned home as a 7.5-point favorite. Philadelphia punched Boston in the face from the opening tip, and nothing went right for the home team over four quarters. The Celtics played terribly, and no one player put together a full game. After referring to himself as an elite shooter, Al Horford went 0-7 from the three-point line. Jaylen Brown started making noise but didn’t do anything in crunch time. Tatum began the first quarter with just two points but exploded in the second half. However, it was too late at that point as the 76ers continued to answer the Celtics.
Embiid was fantastic and barely missed a mid-range jumper. He finished with 33 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. James Harden added a double-double with 17 points and ten assists. Even Tobias Harris had a huge night at home, with 16 points and 11 rebounds. The Celtics were cold in Game 5, but this loss for Boston also came down to effort.
Boston was outrebounded 49-36 on the glass, including 40-27 on defense. This effort isn’t going to win any games in the playoffs. The Celtics looked lazy the entire night, which led to the loss. Boston has been able to respond over the years when down 3-2. They beat the Bucks in the Eastern Conference semifinals in a similar spot last season. The only difference was they hosted Game 6.
Game 6 will be the most hostile Philadelphia crowd the Celtics have seen all year, but they should come out with a different level of fight. If Boston plays their best basketball, they roll to a win, as there are still some questions about the 76ers ability to finish the job.
Everything has gone wrong for the Celtics, from their shots not falling to Mazzulla making bad mistakes in high-leverage situations. Tatum brought the energy in Game 5, but it wasn’t enough for the team to succeed. The Celtics were 39.8% from the field compared to the Sixers, who shot over 50% on the night. When you look at the box score, it makes sense why the Celtics were blown out on the night.
The one positive for the Celtics was Tatum showed he can score against the 76ers at will. He just needs support from his teammates, including Horford. Horford is a good shooter, but had seven open looks from three and didn’t make a single shot. A few buckets from him would have helped, and the same goes for Malcolm Brogdon off the bench.
Brogdon has been contributing 15+ point performances but only contributed seven points and shot 3-9 from the floor. This isn’t going to cut it from the NBA’s 6th Man of the Year. We know Tatum and Brown will be on their game tonight, but this contest will come down to the role players. The Celtics have strength in numbers and must use this to their advantage. If they don’t, their season will end in Philadelphia.
The 76ers shouldn’t change their strategy in any way heading into Game 6. Embiid is this team's consistent player, but they have been firing on all cylinders. Philadelphia demoralized Boston on the glass, and this was critical to their success. They didn’t give the Celtics second chances on the offensive glass, which could have sparked a hot streak.
The key for Philadelphia will be Harden’s ability to score. He has been inconsistent, but the Sixers have won every game where he has shined. Harden was 4 of 8 from the field, with eight rebounds and ten assists. He was efficient in all aspects of the game, and this led to the win.
The other key player for the 76ers in Game 6 will be Tobias Harris. Harris was 7 of 10 from the floor with 11 rebounds in Game 5. He grabbed boards because Boston played lazy, but credit to Harris for laying it on the line for his team. Philadelphia should see a better performance out of Boston, but they don’t need to change anything.
The Celtics are too good not to force a Game 7. They’ve been in this spot before and have no reason to panic. We saw it last year with the Milwaukee Bucks, and it’s evident the Celtics can win a Game 7 at home. They just need to notch a victory to get back in the position of power. It’s hard to think the Celtics won’t look like a totally different team tonight because they’ve thrived with their backs against the wall.
Look for Tatum to come up big and Boston’s strength in numbers to shine throughout the game. Take the Celtics on the moneyline.
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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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