76ers vs Celtics – NBA London Game 2018 Odds, Prediction
The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers renew hostilities, but in a new location, as the two historical franchises play for the 543 time (442 in the regular season, 100 times in the playoffs). The Celtics own the edge in the all-time series, 311-231. The neutral location of the game will play a factor, but the biggest thing to follow is the 76ers starting line-up against the Celtics defence.
The East-leading Boston Celtics will try to improve to 8-1 against their division when they play the 76ers on Thursday. The Celtics league-best (as of January 9) 33 wins have come on the heels of great defensive play. The Celtics have the best defence in the NBA, allowing just 97.6 points per game. They are only one of two teams in the NBA to allow less than 100 points per game.
Their strong defensive play allows for superstar Kyrie Irving to be more than just a scorer. He is developing better passing skills and is now less of a liability on defence. If the Boston Celtics finish first in the East and potentially first overall in the NBA, Irving could steal the NBA MVP award away from James Harden or LeBron James.
Maybe a little overhyped ending the season, the Philadelphia 76ers enter this game with a 19-19 record and sit half a game out of a playoff spot. Still, the 76ers team is showing the necessary improvements. The 76ers biggest strength is their starting line-up. Each of the 76ers five starters is averaging 13.6 points per game or more this season.
The 76ers lead scorer, Joel Embiid, is developing into one of the premier big men in the NBA this season. Health is still a concern, as he has missed nine games this season. However, when he plays, few players in the NBA have the ability to impact a game as much as Embiid.
The 76ers are improving. After years of rebuilding and “trusting the process,” the 76ers are finally starting to look like a legitimate NBA team. The praised showered on them before the season began was a little much (as some sportsbooks had their odds at the NBA title better than the Toronto Raptors). However, if they can grab the seventh or the eighth seed in the East, they will be a challenge for whomever they face in round one.
Game Preview And Predictions
This game will be the third meeting between these two rivals of the season. The Celtics won the first two games by an average score of 10.5 points. The recent history in this rivalry does not favour the 76ers. Since the start of the 2014-15 NBA season, the Boston Celtics are 13-1 against the 76ers, with the single loss coming back in March 2017.
The 76ers are coming into this game, winners of their last four and five of their previous six. After a slump in December, which saw the 76ers loss 10 of 11, the team has fought back and is coming off a 36 point win over the Detroit Pistons.
The Celtics are also coming in hot, winning six in a row to remain atop the East Conference. Their last game, an 87-85 win over the Nets, certainly was not their best effort of the season. However, a win is a win. It does not always have to look pretty.
For this game, the health of Joel Embiid is paramount. He is dealing with some back soreness and remains questionable for Thursday. The Celtics do not have a player who can effectively stop Embiid for four quarters. If Embiid is not able to play (which he says he will), the chances of a 76ers win drop significantly. If he cannot play, wager the Celtics. However, assuming he will play, here are the other factors to focus on Thursday game.
First is the Boston Celtics defence. In nine of the Celtics ten losses this season, the team allowed over 100 points. In their 32 wins, they allowed the opponents to score 100 points or more just ten times. That is the key statistic for Thursday’s game. The Celtics are 10-9 when allowing over 100 points per game and 23-1 when allowing less than 100. This leads to the question of whether or not the 76ers get to 100 points against the Celtics?
In the two earlier games this season, the 76ers did not score 100 points against Boston. However, they broke the century mark in the previous five contests against the Celtics, which includes their only victory over Boston since the start of the 2014 NBA season.
The 76ers offence is on a hot streak of its own. The group is averaging 111.83 points per game over their last six. Their starters average 85.5 points per game this season, which represents 78.7% of their total team points. Now, it is not always good to have such a large percentage of total scoring come from the starters. However, since this is the 76ers only game this week, they could push their starters a little further and maximize their production.
With a healthy Embiid and the potential, the rest of the starters see extra-time, expecting the 76ers to at least keep it close, is the best wager on Thursday.
Both teams are hovering around the 50/50 mark when it comes to over/under lines this season. The Celtics are 20-22-1 while the 76ers sit at 20-18. The Celtics allow a league-low 97.15 points per game away from the Garden this year. The average score between these two teams over their last ten meetings is 205.6 points.
Since 2011, there have been six regular-season NBA games played in London. Based on those six games, predicting the under/over is near-impossible. The low is 164, and the high is 273. Three times a team has scored more than 135 points, and three times a team scored 87 points or less. The average total of the six games is 217.66 points.
At the time of publication, there was not an over/under line available. However, with Embiid likely playing, the erraticness of London games and 76ers hot offence, any over/under line of 211.5 or less is worth wagering on the over option.
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