The Boston Celtics finished off a playoff sweep the last time they faced the Philadelphia 76ers in a game that mattered, and the two teams are set to battle for the first time this season in the City of Brotherly Love on Wednesday. Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m. ET, and both sides could earn control of the Eastern Conference with a win.
It’s no secret that the center position is the Celtics’ weak point, and Joel Embiid ($15,000) has a good chance to exploit lesser bigs. Tristan Thompson and Daniel Theis are far from being capable of slowing down one of the most dominant centers in the game, even while he’s dealing with knee soreness. There’s a chance this game will turn into a blowout because of the absence of Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker’s minutes restriction, but Embiid can but up big numbers on limited minutes. He has scored 40 DKFP in less than 30 minutes three times in his last 10 games.
Jaylen Brown ($13,500) has had to act as Boston’s top option with Tatum out of commission and has a good chance to lead all players in minutes in this game. Brown has the most offensive potential of any Celtic but is also his team’s best defender. His three games with 54 DKFP or more since Dec. 27 show that he can stuff the stat sheet, even against good defensive teams.
Shake Milton ($7,200) has been on a tear since returning from a week layoff and has scored at least 24 points in three straight games. His return has reduced Tyrese Maxey's impact, and the absence of Seth Curry will give him plenty of freedom to shoot at will.
While Tristan Thompson ($6,000) and Daniel Theis ($6,400) have been splitting minutes down the middle, Thompson is the better option for a physical force like Embiid. You shouldn’t expect monster numbers from him, but the need for strength in the post could make him more viable than Theis in this matchup.
Philly should blow Boston away in this one but have tended to play down to their competition early this season. I think the 76ers will get the win despite having much more talent on the floor. The victory likely won’t be by a wide margin, though.
Final Score: 76ers win 110-102