Who: #3 Philadelphia 76ers (3-3) at #2 Boston Celtics (3-3)
When: 2:30 PM CT
Line: Cetlics -6.5 | Total: 201 (courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook)
What To Watch For
What is this parity we speak of in the NBA? I thought it was dominated by just two teams, normally of the highest seeds in a given playoffs?
The eight seed Miami Heat are currently waiting for the winner of Sunday’s Boston/Philadelphia clash that will punch the last ticket outstanding to the NBA conference finals, and it takes place in sports’ most pure form; game seven.
The Celtics will look to keep the trend going of their predecessor in the Milwaukee Bucks - being the second straight Eastern Conference champion to re-appear in the conference finals the following year.
They nearly missed the performance of that feat in game 6. Jayson Tatum started out the game going 0 for his first 10 in the first half, before exploding for 16 in the fourth quarter to save Boston from himself.
Jayson Tatum: never showed up to class, but aced the final.— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) May 12, 2023
“Humbly, I’m one of the best basketball players in the world,” he proclaimed after the game.
Agreed personally, but that will certainly get put to the test. On the other side is a playoff-seasoned James Harden and the recently-crowned best basketball player in the world in Joel Embiid.
While Philly is an excellent team and many had them reaching this spot and beyond in the preseason, more had Boston advancing out of the conference, and the Celtics were the odds-on favorite to hoist the Larry O’Brien at the beginning of the year.
Yes, I left the Minnesota Timberwolves out of that on purpose.
The playoffs are no doubt a glorified crapshoot. Philadelphia is excellent, especially when James Harden shows up. But it would definitely be a disappointment for the Celtics’ journey to stop short of the Conference Finals, and postgame Boston sports radio would be a MUST listen.
Can the C’s conquer the field? Only Sunday will tell.
Doc Rivers is 6-9 all time in game sevens. A pretty ambiguous record for a winner-take-all game.
But the Sixers, like every other team at this stage, are all in. Rivers was hired to elevate this team further above what Brett Brown could. If the Sixers lose tomorrow, I can’t say with confidence that he’s the head man in Philadelphia again next season. Especially with some of the aggressive coaching decisions that have taken place this offseason already.
BREAKING: The Phoenix Suns dismissed coach Monty Williams, sources tell ESPN. Williams was a two-time NBA Coach of the Year in four seasons with Suns — including a trip to 2021 NBA Finals. Suns lost 6-game series to Nuggets in Western Semifinals. pic.twitter.com/bfMd6F1RJc— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 14, 2023
If Philadelphia’s season ends in the semifinals, when it certainly seems like they have the team in place to make the full run, it would be incredibly hard to say Daryl Morey doesn’t become tantalized with one of the current free agents currently on the market. A few names in addition to Monty Williams that would listen:
- Mike Budenholzer
- Terry Stotts
- Nick Nurse
- Frank Vogel
- Kenny Atkinson
I may have framed this game so far as the big, bad Celtics against the Cinderella story Sixers. It couldn’t be further from the case; both teams have a metric ton riding on this.
Below are a couple props I like. Odds and lines according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
Points: Al Horford O8.5 (+100)
I think Horford is due. He’s struggled the last couple games, but the volume is there. I think the Celtics can be effective in spacing the Sixers out in this one, and Horford has to be a part of that. All it takes is a couple threes, especially if Rob Williams finds himself in foul trouble.
Threes: Jaylen Brown O2.5 (+105)
He’s hit this over in two of the last three, and a big part of the miss last game was Tatum’s volume. I think Bown gets a little more involved
None to report.
Danilo Gallinari - OUT