Time: 7 p.m. ET
Venue: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Where to watch: NBCSP, NBCSB
Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks
DraftKings: 76ers -3.5
BetMGM: 76ers -3.5
Caesars: 76ers -3.5
Celtics: 21-21 (10th place, Eastern Conference)
76ers: 23-17 (5th place, Eastern Conference)
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Celtics - 76ers preview, analysis and prediction
Given how inconsistent they’ve been, it’s hard to trust the Boston Celtics heading into Friday’s matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Sometimes insanity is thinking things will happen in a different climate than you expect them to. I go into this game thinking the underdog will pull through for one of its more impressive wins this season, despite the Sixers having won four of the last five meetings and covering the past six.
Much like any team with a new coach, it’s going to take time to gel. Ime Udoka is no exception to that rule, but the Celtics -- with a full group intact for the first time in what seems like forever -- have won three straight and five of seven dating back to Dec. 31.
The Celtics wrapped up a home-and-home series with the struggling Indiana Pacers, winning only by three in overtime on Jan. 10 at home, but manhandling the Pacers on the road Wednesday, 119-100.
It was the best collective game from Jaylen Brown (34 points) and Jayson Tatum (33 points) from the All-Star duo this season. Boston made 51.3 percent of shots and went 18 of 38 from 3-point range, while defensively keeping the Pacers to just 7 of 36 from long distance.
"When we can do that — get out and run and not play against everyone's half-court set, we're better," Udoka said. "Those two came out great and Dennis got going and put a lot of pressure on them. They've got to make shots and at the end of the day, they did that."
Schroder finished with 23 points of his own.
I’d normally like the Sixers at this juncture, being at home and looking to bounce back after losing by 11 points to the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday. That loss ended a seven-game winning streak, but I didn’t come away impressed with that streak.
There are good wins early at Washington, Toronto and Brooklyn, but two of those wins also came against the Houston Rockets, one more against San Antonio and a home victory against the young and inconsistent San Antonio Spurs.
Joel Embiid led all scorers with 31 points to go with six rebounds, but turned it over seven times in the loss to Charlotte. Outside of Tobias Harris, no other starter reached the teens in scoring and the lineup faltered defensively.
"It starts with me. I wasn't good enough," Embiid said.
I don’t anticipate it to be a double-digit kind of game in favor of the Celtics, but so long as Brown and Tatum are playing close to what they can do together, not many Eastern Conference teams can hang. This is a game that Boston needs to win for us to think the Celtics should be considered in the realm of contention, and I think they get it done. Celtics by 5
The Celtics are 10-6 ATS as an underdog this season.
The Celtics are 1-5 ATS this season off a win by 15 points or more.
The 76ers are 6-11 ATS at home this season.
The 76ers are 4-6 ATS when scoring 100 points or less the previous game.
Projected starting lineup
PG: Marcus Smart
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Al Horford
C: Robert Williams III
PG: Tyrese Maxey
SG: Seth Curry
SF: Matisse Thybulle
PF: Tobias Harris
C: Joel Embiid
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