NBA on TNT Odds: Boston Celtics at Philadelphia 76ers

Boston at Philadelphia

Time: 6 PM CST (TNT)

Spread: PHI -2

Total: 218

Odds c/o 5dimes

The Philadelphia 76ers host the Boston Celtics in the first half of a Thursday night TNT Doubleheader at 6 PM CST. Philadelphia is favored by 2-points and the over/under is set at 218 points according to NBA oddsmakers at 5dimes.

BOSTON NEWS & NOTES

The Boston Celtics are clearly a better team without Kyrie Irving. Boston is 25-10 and in first place in the Atlantic Division.

Kemba Walker has stepped into the role of No. 1 scorer, and he is averaging 22 points and 5.2 assists in his first season as a Celtic. Jayson Tatum, too, has stepped it up in his third season. The former Duke swingman is averaging 20.9 points and seven rebounds per game. And if that was not enough, Jaylen Brown has taken on a much bigger scoring role in averaging just under 20 points per game. Adding to this trio, Gordon Hayward is progressing well from his surgery and should be back in the lineup soon. The C’s are locked and loaded and absolute contenders in the Eastern Conference.

Boston averages 110.9 points per game this season while continuing to play its tough brand of defense. The team shoots 45.5 percent from the floor and 35 percent on threes (34 attempts per game). Boston also is still waiting for eventual-starting center Enes Kanter to round into shape following an injury to starting the season. Daniel Theis has performed admirably in his absence, but Kanter will bring a scoring punch to the 5-spot that Theis and Robert Williams III cannot.

Marcus Smart continues to function well as a jack-of-all-trades sixth man, or a “stretch-6” as he called himself in the preseason. Smart is averaging 11.4 points and 4.7 assists per game and can provide defense at all positions. The Celtics depth is functional— in the sense that its backups provide different looks and strengths than its starters. Carsen Edwards has looked good in limited minutes and will be a solid backup for Walker for the first three seasons of his NBA career. The Celtics just have a lot going on, and even without Hayward and Kanter, this team has rolled to a .750 winning percentage thus far.

PHILADELPHIA NEWS & NOTES:

The 76ers are 17-2 SU at home where it hosts the Boston Celtics tonight. Philadelphia trails Boston by just 1.5 games for the lead of the Atlantic Division. If the Toronto Raptors win today, it will move Philly into 2nd place if it wins as well.

Philadelphia averages 109.8 points per game, ranking No. 16 in the Association in scoring. It allows 105.9 per, and the Sixers have a win-differential of +3.9 points. Joel Embiid is the team leader. He averages 23.4 points, 12.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.2 steals/blocks in just 31.1 minutes per game. The signing of Al Horford has helped the Sixers manage the load of Embiid much better.

Horford is averaging the same 30 minutes per game, and he averages 12.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.9 steals/blocks per game. The Sixers have Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson starting on the wings, and both are producing, combining to average 34.4 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.

Ben Simmons is certainly a unique point guard, but he has not been without his issues. The 6’9” point-forward is averaging 14.9 points, seven rebounds, and 8.6 assists per game, but the mantra that he “cannot shoot” is not dying any sort of quick death. While Simmons shoots a very fine 56.3 percent from the floor, he is still passing on most jump shots and he rarely (0.1 per game) shoots the triple.

It does affect matters. Teams do not respect Simmons’ shooting ability and that makes it easier to double team Embiid and Harris. Until Simmons gains a respectable mid-range jumper and potentially even a three, it is tough to imagine the Sixers making that final step towards true contention. Philadelphia is a good team, but in some senses, it is an easy team to prepare for. While Embiid is extra-worldly, Simmons’ upside is quite mitigated by his errant shooting.

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