Celtics vs. 76ers Game 6: Can Philadelphia Finish Boston?

Action Network contributor Jacob McKenna previews how to bet Celtics vs. 76ers, including updated odds, picks and predictions for Thursday's NBA Playoff game.

Celtics vs. 76ers Odds

Celtics Odds -2.5
76ers Odds +2.5
Over/Under 212.5
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Eastern Conference semifinals matchup between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers continues on Thursday night in Philadelphia.

Boston took control of the series in Philadelphia when it won Game 3, but the script has flipped as Philadelphia won back-to-back games and takes a 3-2 lead into game Game 6.

Philadelphia couldn’t seem to figure Boston out during the regular season, but it appears Joel Embiid and company have enough talent to finally break through to the Eastern Conference Finals. Will we see that happen in this matchup, or will Boston even the series and force a deciding game? Let’s look at the matchup and make a betting pick for Game 6 in Thursday’s Celtics vs. 76ers preview.

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Boston Celtics

Just a few days ago it appeared everything was going right for Boston. The series was tied at two, but the Celtics’ losses came by a combined five points and the offense was getting everything it wanted.

Over the first four games, Boston posted a 123.7 Offensive Rating, which was 11.5 points higher than Philadelphia.

The key to that rating was Boston’s ability to score from all levels. The Celtics shot shot 38.0% from behind the arc and scored an average of 44.0 points in the paint in Games 1 through 4. Boston’s bench also managed to outscore Philadelphia’s 124-84 in that time.

However, those advantages went out the window in Game 5 as Boston shot just 32% from 3, 8% worse than Philadelphia. Boston’s bench did have a positive point differential, but that was largely from garbage-time minutes. The Celtics’ main bench players in Game 5, Malcolm Brogdon and Robert Williams, combined for just 11 points.

The Celtics we saw in Game 5 is not the team we are used to seeing, but it is tough to tell which version we will get with their backs against the wall on the road.

Philadelphia 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers have given themselves a chance to make it back to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2001. Coincidentally, that was the last time a 76ers player (Allen Iverson) won MVP.

However, even though Philadelphia owns the series lead, nothing is guaranteed — especially since its stars have already come and gone multiple times in this series.

James Harden erupted for 45 points in Game 1, but disappeared in Games 2 and 3, shooting 17.9% overall and 15.4% from behind the arc across those two matchups. He then bounced back with a 42-point performance in Game 4 and a near triple-double in Game 5, but it has been tough to predict which version of the former MVP is going to show up.

Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia’s third leading scorer during the regular season, followed a similar path. He scored 26 points in Game 1 and 30 in Game 5, but failed to surpass 14 points and shot 34% from the floor in between.

Luckily, the MVP has held things down on the offensive end after a poor performance in Game 2. Over the past three games, Joel Embiid is averaging 32.3 points per game and giving himself a ton of chances at the charity stripe (12.7 attempts per game). That will need to continue for Philadelphia to advance.

Celtics-76ers Pick

The key for Boston and Philadelphia is going to be the 3. We’ve seen both teams struggle offensively when the 3 isn’t dropping, but Boston continues to trend in the wrong direction in that regard.

Boston shot 37.7% from 3 in Games 1 through 3, but that percentage dropped to 35.4% across Games 4 and 5. The opposite is true for the 76ers. Philadelphia shot 37.1% from beyond the arc in the first three games, but increased that to 39.1% in the past two.

Fatigue may also play a slight factor here. Boston has played 11 postseason games (tied with Golden State for the most in these playoffs), while Philadelphia has played nine. Philadelphia also had eight days of rest in between Rounds 1 and 2. Boston had three.

I think the 3-point shooting trends will be a much larger factor than fatigue, but both will play a role as this series comes to a close. As a result, I like Philadelphia to cover the spread and would play it down to 1.5.