Sixers vs. Celtics Odds & Picks: Will The MVP Return For Game 2?

We head into Game 2 of the Sixers vs. Celtics series with the Sixers holding a 1-0 series lead despite missing now-MVP Joel Embiid in their first game.

They pulled off their Game 1 win largely on the back of James Harden, who scored 45 points on 17-30 shooting (7-14 from three) with an additional 26 points from Tyrese Maxey. As a team, they shot 44.7% from deep and 50.6% overall and should see their efficiency numbers remain at an elite level with the hopeful return of Embiid on Wednesday.

Despite the encouraging news that Joel Embiid is expected to return on Wednesday, the Celtics currently sit as 7.5-point favorites after opening as 8.5-point favorites. A one-point move for the return of the MVP is not nearly enough and it’s a line I want to take full advantage of, with my analysis below.


Sixers Celtics
Spread +7.5 -7.5
Moneyline +275 -340
Over/Under 217.0

Lines and odds are accurate at the time of publication via FanDuel Sportsbook.


Sixers +7.5 (-110, FanDuel)

I alluded to the 76ers’ ability to adjust and adapt in the absence of Embiid in my last NBABet column, and that was on full display in Game 1. We saw a masterclass on offense from Harden, a phenomenal 1B game out of Maxey, and reliable ancillary performances from Tobias Harris (18 points, 8-16 shooting) and De’Anthony Melton (17 points, 6-10 shooting), resulting in them not only covering the 9.5-point spread, but winning outright.

Now, with all the momentum after stealing home court, the expectation is that their MVP, Joel Embiid, returns tonight. While not set in stone, Embiid went through morning shootaround and, per Shams Charania (linked above), the expectation is that he returns barring a setback.

His presence is an obvious boost in every facet of the game for the Sixers, as their offensive rating this year jumps to 121.2 with him on the court versus 115.2 with him off, while opponents’ offensive ratings drop to 112.1 with him on versus 116.3 with him off. He’s also dominated Boston in four matchups this season, averaging 36.8 points (with games of 41 and 52 points), 11.8 rebounds, and 4.3 assists on 61.2% shooting from the field. As good as Al Horford and Robert Williams are, they simply don’t have an answer for Embiid.

If the Sixers can maintain the same level of defensive intensity that they did in Game 1 and accept the fact that Jayson Tatum is going to produce (and Jaylen Brown), it’s just a matter of limiting the rest of the team, then they’ll be in great shape to not only cover, but win outright once again.

7.5 points is simply too generous towards the Sixers with the impending return of Embiid after what we saw in Game 1. I fully expect this line to move once Embiid is confirmed in, so I am making it a point to hit the value early.

Risk: 1.10 units on FanDuel to win 1 unit.

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