76ers vs. Celtics Game 7: Expect Grinding Pace in Boston

Jacob McKenna previews how to bet 76ers vs. Celtics, including updated odds, picks and predictions for Sunday's game.

76ers vs. Celtics Odds

76ers Odds +6.5
Celtics Odds -6.5
Over/Under 201
Time 3:30 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The series between the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics will go to a season-deciding Game 7 Sunday.

The 76ers had a lead after three quarters in Game 6, putting themselves in position to close out the series after being down by 15 points earlier in the matchup. However, a late scoring outburst from Jayson Tatum gave Boston the lead and eventually the nine-point victory.

Playing on the road in Game 7 is always a tough spot to be in, but the Sixers are 2-1 in Boston in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Can they make that record 3-1, or will the Celtics complete the comeback and move on to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second year in a row?

Let’s take a look at the matchup and make a betting pick in the 76ers vs Celtics Game 7 preview.

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Philadelphia 76ers

Playing on the road has been a tall task in the past for the 76ers, but they’ve changed that narrative this season.

The 76ers won 25 of their 41 road games this season, tied with Boston for the second most road wins in the NBA. The key to staying in the win column so consistently started on the offensive end, where the Sixers owned a 118.2 Offensive Rating. That rating ranked first in the NBA by a wide margin, 2.5 points ahead of Sacramento in second.

That success on the road has carried over into the postseason, where 76ers are 4-1 across five road games. The 76ers are scoring just 103.8 points per game in those matchups, but the ability to consistently shoot 3-pointers (37.5% on road in playoffs) has given the Sixers enough separation despite the low scoring output.

Defense is a slight area of concern though. Even with Sixers being 2-1 in the series while playing in Boston, the 76ers have seen their Defensive Rating spike to 121.1 in those three matchups. Boston is giving the 76ers some problems on that end, where it has had the upper hand for most of the season.

Boston Celtics

Earlier in the series we saw James Harden disappear on the offensive end. He has since returned to his usual form, but now Jayson Tatum appears to be stuck in a shooting slump.

Jayson Tatum became the first Celtics player to average more than 30 points per game in the regular season. There is no question that he is one of the best scorers in the NBA, but he has oftentimes been a non-factor in the first half of this series. Per Tatum shot 13.3% from the floor overall and 7.7% from three in the first half of the last three games, averages that no one would expect from the first team All-NBA player.

Al Horford is another player that hasn’t been able to find his stroke. In that same three-game span Horford is shooting 6.7% overall and 8.3% from behind the arc in the first half, hindering the Celtics offense from getting on the board early.

As a result of having two starters failing to score the basketball, Boston’s first-half point differential in the last three games sits at -11. Tatum has done a terrific job at recovering from his first half shooting struggles, even outscoring the 76ers 16-13 by himself in the fourth quarter of Game 6, but the low offensive output in the first half has allowed Philly to keep things close and win some games.

76ers-Celtics Pick

Relying on Jayson Tatum to shoot 13% from the floor is probably a poor strategy. However, there are some factors in this game that make me believe that the spread in this matchup is still slightly high at 6.5 points.

The 76ers are not known for playing at a fast pace. Per they are generating just 92.04 offensive possessions per game in the postseason, the second-fewest of the 16 playoff teams. That rises slightly to 93.67 in the three games played in Boston in this series, but it is still well below Philadelphia’s season Pace of 97.44.

The slower pace has helped the Sixers keep things close against Celtics. The Celtics went from generating 101.67 offensive possessions per game in Round 1 against Atlanta to generating just 93.05 against the 76ers, which goes a long way against a team that has had some stars struggle with their shooting.

I’m expecting the slow pace to continue in Game 7, allowing for a low-scoring, tightly contested game. I’m not sure that it will be so low scoring that the total stays below 201, but I feel comfortable backing the 76ers on the spread and I would play it to 5.5.