The Philadelphia 76ers head to the TD Garden Tuesday to play the Boston Celtics in the first of a primetime doubleheader on NBA's opening night. This is a simple "power ratings play" for me.
Philly is my highest-power-ranked team in the East and Boston is 4th. The Celtics get a boost because the game is in Boston but the Sixers have too many edges in their favor to ignore.
Betting Details (DraftKings)
Since it's opening night, this is a max motivation spot for both teams but the Sixers are healthier. Boston is missing defensive frontcourt anchor, C Robert Williams III, and newly signed SF Danilo Gallinari.
Joel Embiid is the 2nd-favorite to win the NBA MVP entering the season and will dominate the Celtics inside. Also, I'm expecting a big regular season for Embiid and James Harden.
When Embiid and Harden were on the floor together last season, the 76ers had a +15.8 adjusted net rating, per CleaningTheGlass.com. This ranked in the 99th percentile of all 5-man lineups.
Philly got deeper in the offseason by acquiring forwards Montrezl Harrell and P.J. Tucker and combo guard De'Anthony Melton. The Sixers scored the 3rd-fewest bench points in the NBA last year.
Boston didn't get much from its bench either last season; the Celtics were 26th in bench points per game. They tried to address this need by signing Gallinari but he suffered a season-ending injury in the offseason.
Celtics struggle in the 'clutch'
Boston was 13-22 straight up (SU) in "clutch" time with the 26th-ranked net rating last season. Whereas Philly was 24-21 SU in the "clutch" with the 10th-best net rating. "Clutch" is defined by games within a 5-point margin inside of five minutes to play.
The Celtics have a tough time winning tight games because they don't have a true point guard. Boston wings Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown play iso-ball and settle for long, contested 2-pointers.
The 76ers were more efficient in the "clutch" because Embiid overpowers opponents down the stretch. Philly's "clutch" numbers should improve with Harden running the show.
Oddsmakers are projecting a coin-flip game and I trust the Sixers more than the Celtics to win a close one especially since Philly is 8-3 SU and 9-2 ATS vs. Boston since 2019.