76ers vs. Celtics Preview: Are the Sixers Undervalued on the Road?

Action Network NBA betting analyst Joe Dellera previews Wednesday night's matchup between the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics.

76ers vs. Celtics Odds

76ers Odds +2.5
Celtics Odds -2.5
Over/Under 207.5
Time 7:30 p.m ET
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Philadelphia 76ers head to Boston to take on the Celtics in this matchup between divisional foes.

This is the first matchup between these two teams after the 76ers swept the season series both straight up and against the spread last year. Can we expect more of the same or is this Boston team capable of turning the tides?

76ers Returning to Dominance With Joel Embiid Healthy

The 76ers are intact after returning both Joel Embiid (Covid) and Tobias Harris (hip) which has provided a bit of a boost for this 76ers team who was extremely reliant on the likes of Andre Drummond.

With their return, we have seen a downturn in scoring from Tyrese Maxey who lead Philadelphia’s offensive charge without Embiid; however, his assist percentage has spiked and he’s now logged nine assists in back-to-back games with Embiid and Harris. He’s an excellent player to target for assists and double-doubles moving forward.

In fact, his assists prop is sitting at over 4.5 (+128) and over 5.5 (+240) on FanDuel. Given his new role and the fact that he’s clearly deferred to Embiid and Harris, this could be a good spot to buy Maxey’s assists despite his season average being just five assists.

The 76ers are clearly at their best when Embiid is on the floor. When he plays the 76ers are 8-3 this season and he has a team-best +10.3 point differential, per Cleaning the Glass. Considering he has missed nine games due to Covid Protocols and the 76ers still have a +2.4 point differential on the season it shows just how deep and resilient this team has been this season.

Celtics Offense Still Hit-or-Miss

The Celtics have listed Jaylen Brown as questionable due to injury management (hamstring). He’s played in four consecutive games, but if he misses this contest, Dennis Schroder would be the direct beneficiary.

The Celtics have been a bit of an enigma this season. They’ve won three of their past five games but they have not played the toughest of opponents.

A big issue for them has been their offense. The Celtics have struggled to take high-quality shots and they have not been able to compensate for their below-average shot-making. While their defense has kept the team afloat, without an offense that can score consistently, this team can run into trouble if Jayson Tatum or Brown cannot play hero-ball on a given day.

Another issue for Boston is that while Robert Williams is expected to return (non-Covid illness) to join Al Horford in the starting backcourt and Grant Williams will rejoin the bench unit, the Celtics have been abysmal at defending shots at the rim.

While they prevent those opportunities, they allow opponents to shoot 66.4% at the rim, an area the 76ers can attack at will with Joel Embiid. Obviously, there are some differences in roster construction but last season Embiid averaged 38.3 points and 9.0 rebounds on 60.4% shooting across three games versus the Celtics.

76ers-Celtics Pick

These teams are just a few decimal places off in terms of Net Rating with the 76ers holding a 1.5 to 1.1 edge, per NBA Advanced Stats. However, I think this undersells Philadelphia’s advantage on not only the interior but also the fact that Embiid and Harris have missed significant time. The 76ers team is a bit underrated in this spot.

Despite the fact that Celtics are the home team, I think this is too many points to lay. There’s been some line movement here as well. Last night this game opened at Celtics -2. It moved to -4.5 on some books and has since been hammered by money on the 76ers with some books returning it all the way to 2.5. I agree with the sharp action this morning and would take this all the way down to 76ers +2 (Fox Bet has the best line at +3.5).

Pick: 76ers +2.5 or better