The Boston Celtics are once again a strong NBA pick heading into Tuesday’s all-Atlantic battle with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Boston Celtics
Tuesday, April 6, 2021 – 7:30 PM ET at TD Garden, Boston
Things were bound to improve sooner or later for the Boston Celtics (25-25 SU, 24-26 ATS). They’ve had some issues this year, but mostly because they haven’t been able to put a full lineup on the court; now that they’ve got their core players back in uniform, the Celtics are 4-2 SU and ATS in their last six games – all after making some sharp moves at the trade deadline.
Boston should be the right NBA pick again this Tuesday when they host the Philadelphia 76ers (34-16 SU, 27-21-2 ATS), who could be at considerably less than full strength for this matchup. The Sixers have opened as 2-point favorites at SBK, fueled in part by the return of Joel Embiid from the injured list. However, Philadelphia’s backcourt will be without at least one key player, and that’s after depleting their bench while making their own deadline-day deals.
The Sixers could have gone off the rails when Embiid (plus-2.7 VORP) missed 10 games with a bone bruise on his left knee. Instead, they went 7-3 SU and 6-4-1 ATS to remain atop the Eastern Conference standings. Embiid returned on Saturday and scored 24 points in 28 minutes to help Philadelphia beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 122-113, but it wasn’t enough to beat the NBA lines as 13.5-point road faves.
As a rule of thumb, NBA players need two games to shake off the rust from a long injury layoff. Tuesday will be Embiid’s second game back; he sat out Sunday’s 116-100 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies (+3.5 away). It was a tough loss for the Sixers, who shot just 8-of-34 (23.5 percent) from downtown, but it showed how dependent they are on both Embiid and their long-range shooting. And they’ll be weaker than usual in the latter department with George Hill (38.6 percent) yet to make his Philly debut.
After rumors that Kyle Lowry might return to his hometown at the trade deadline, the Sixers ended up acquiring Hill from the Oklahoma City Thunder, in a three-team deal that saw Tony Bradley move to Oklahoma City, and the trio of Terrance Ferguson, Vincent Poirier, and Emir Preldzic land with the New York Knicks. Bradley (plus-0.4 VORP) was the only one of the four getting regular minutes in Philly, but the big man was playing very well in support of Embiid, and while the Knicks did send Ignas Brazdeikis to the Sixers as part of the Hill trade, they’re still short of warm bodies while they wait for Hill to recover from his broken right thumb.
This is where Boston can take advantage. Their backcourt has been strengthened by the acquisition of Evan Fournier (plus-0.7 VORP), who came over from the Orlando Magic as part of Orlando’s clearing-house sale – the Celtics only had to give up Jeff Teague (minus-0.1 VORP), who was immediately waived by the Magic. Once an inefficient volume shooter, Fournier has turned himself into a reliable two-way player; we’ll see if he can jam up Philly’s perimeter and thus deprive Embiid of the spacing he craves, beating the NBA odds in the process.
NBA Pick: Celtics +2 (–108) at SBK