It’s Game 7 between two East elites for a spot the conference finals! We should see urgency on both ends as it will be a long off-season for whoever gets sent home.
Catch the game tomorrow at 3:30 AM, Manila time.
HOME: Boston Celtics (3-3)
Projected starting five:
- Marcus Smart
- Derrick White
- Jaylen Brown
- Jayson Tatum
- Al Horford
The Celtics definitely look good for this one. They are at home and also in high spirits after a memorable 95-86 win in Game 6, thanks in huge part to Jayson Tatum getting hot at the perfect time. He was 1-13 through the first three quarters before unloading four three-pointers in the final 4:14 of the game, finishing with 16 points in the period, three more than what the entire Sixers had.
Tatum is averaging an all-around 25.3 points, 10.8 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.5 blocks per game in this series, though he does have to be more efficient as he’s only shooting 41.7% from the field, including 31.9% from downtown.
As always, the good thing about the Celtics is the wide number of reliable options. Jaylen Brown (22.5 PPG in the series) is side-by-side with Tatum in leading Boston, and they’re backed up by Malcolm Brogdon and Marcus Smart, who are both averaging 16-plus PPG In the series. Then, there’s Al Horford and Derrick White too. They’ve been quiet over the last two games, but with the way the offense is set up, where everyone can get their shine anytime, they shouldn’t be counted out.
The Celtics are 11-5 ATS in their last 16 games overall. They are scoring 110.5 PPG in the series.
AWAY: Philadelphia 76ers (3-3)
Projected starting five:
- James Harden
- Tyrese Maxey
- Tobias Harris
- PJ Tucker
- Joel Embiid
Aside from the Celtics, this Sixer team could be battling other opponents. The team’s talent and ability to produce can always be there, even with the inconsistencies, but note that their head coach, Doc Rivers, has blown three 3-1 leads and three 3-2 leads in his career. We’re about to see if he can finally overcome those playoff demons.
First and foremost, they have to learn how to close. Up two at home in Game 6 with a solid chance to clinch the series, they faltered and could only muster 13 points in the fourth quarter, and were basically held without a field goal in the final 6:13 of the game – the last made basket came with just 22 seconds left and the game out of reach.
It will start with the team’s top three scorers. If Joel Embiid (27.6 PPG in the series), James Harden (24.2 PPG), and Tyrese Maxey (20.3) can all be their usual selves instead of one or two being lethargic, the supporting cast should be able to follow. Tobias Harris has to show up as well as he has scored in single digits in three of the series’ last four games.
The Sixers are 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven games on the road. They are averaging 104.2 PPG in the series.
Handicap: The Celtics (-6.5) don’t cover the spread.
Over/Under: The total goes over 201.