The Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers square off for the first time this season on Thursday. Both teams enter this contest following respective losses.
Catch this game live on Thursday, January 21, at 8 AM, Manila time
HOME TEAM: Philadelphia 76ers (9-5, 7-1 at home)
After back-to-back wins over the Miami Heat at home, the 76ers stepped out of the City of Brotherly Love and got smacked in the face by the Memphis Grizzlies in a 106-104 loss last Sunday.
Things could have turned out in Philly’s favor had Joel Embiid played, but the big man sat out the Memphis game due to a right knee issue. His status for Thursday’s game is still up in the air, and he sits out again, Dwight Howard will likely get another start.
Howard had eight points and 18 rebounds in 34 minutes against Memphis. There’s still some gas in Howard’s tank and it’s not a reach to expect him dominant the glass against the Celtics. Moreover, the Sixers are fifth in the NBA with 56.4 rebounds per game.
Another Sixer to watch out for is Shake Milton, who’s been hot of late. Milton came off the bench and fired a game-high 28 points against Memphis. Since the calendar flipped to 2021, Milton has averaged 21.7 points on 57.0 percent shooting in six games.
The Sixers are 5-3 against the spread as the home team this season.
ROAD TEAM: Boston Celtics (8-4, 4-2 on the road)
Are we sure that was Boston who played last Sunday at TD Garden and lost to the New York Knicks, 105-75? The Celtics were completely out of their element in that game, as they shot just 28 percent from the field and 15.2 percent from deep.
Jaylen Brown was the only Celtic with a passable performance, scoring 25 points on 9-of-20 shooting. Perhaps that loss should be treated as more of an anomaly than anything else, as Boston doesn’t usually in such a crushing manner. The Celtics will regroup and face the Sixers, hopefully, with Jayson Tatum back in the lineup.
Tatum has missed multiple games due to COVID-19. Until he returns, the Celtics will try to cover his void with an assortment of rotational players like Grant Williams, Semi Ojeleye, and Aaron Nesmith.
Brown, meanwhile, will continue to shoulder the duties on offense, though it’s great for Boston to see Kemba Walker return to action. In his season debut against the Knicks, Walker scored nine points, albeit in a rusty 3-of-13 shooting.
He should be better against the Sixers, having shaken off the cobwebs following a lengthy layoff. The Celtics are averaging 110.8 points per game and have covered the spread in four of the last five outings.
After suffering a brutal and embarrassing loss to the Knicks, expect the Celtics to come out and play a whole lot better against the Sixers. I’m also expecting Kemba Walker to play closer to his old self after getting his first taste of competitive basketball. The Celtics will win this game, 112-109.