Boston at Philadelphia
Time: 6 PM CT (ESPN)
Spread: PHI -3
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Boston Celtics have lost four of its last 10 games to fall to 43-28 on the season, and it is seeded No. 5 in the East— if the playoffs began today, Boston would not have home-court advantage in the first round against the Indiana Pacers.
Boston still sports as deep and quality a rotation as any team in the East. Jayson Tatum has quietly improved his efficiency in his sophomore season and is averaging 16.3 points per game on 45.1 percent field goals and 37.2 percent three-pointers. The Celtics have seven players averaging eight points per game or better, and it has a solid 10-man rotation that will serve it well in the postseason, even if Brad Stevens tightens up the rotation to 8 or 9 players, as most coaches do.
Franchise player Kyrie Irving still lingers as a potential loss in free agency, as he will have to be re-signed, but he is having an outstanding season.
Irving is averaging 23.8 points, five rebounds, and seven assists per game while posting a team-best PER of 25.46. Tatum, Marcus Morris, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, and Gordon Hayward all average double-figures, and the C’s still are not really getting from Hayward what it thought it might when it signed him as a free agent. Hayward was a borderline superstar with the Utah Jazz, but he still is trying to regain that form following his broken ankle he suffered in the opener last season.
PHI TEAM NOTES:
The Philadelphia 76ers have won seven of its last 10 games. It is currently seeded No. 3 in the East, but it trails Conference-leading Milwaukee by seven games. It is one half-game behind No. 3 Indiana. If the playoffs began today, the Sixers would wage war against the No. 6 seeded Detroit Pistons.
Right now, it is simply trying to stay afloat with Simmons responsible for nearly everything with his rag-tag supporting cast. Butler is expected to return from his sprained wrist tonight.
The 2017 No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz was dealt to the Orlando Magic for Jonathan Simmons plus parts…and Jimmy Butler is a strong addition, but the Sixers have certainly missed the defensive presence Robert Covington gave them (he and Dario Saric were the two key players traded for Butler). The Sixers also are pretty heavily reliant on its top-end talent, and adding depth is not something that should be left out of consideration.
Simmons is an unorthodox point guard, but a very good one, at least. In his second NBA season, the 6’10” 1-man is averaging 17 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 7.9 assists per game, while ranking No. 3 on the team in PER. Butler was a crucial addition, but one cannot overlook how Tobias Harris really rounds out Philly’s starting five. Since being acquired in a trade, Harris has averaged 21.6 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.9 assists in his 10 starts. Philly has won seven of those games, and Harris’ scoring ability takes some pressure off Butler who can now be used in a role as a lockdown defender without colossal offensive responsibilities. Butler still averages 18.5 points per game but his biggest value to the Sixers is his ability to lock up opponents’ premier wing players.
ATS TRENDS (C/o Covers):