Boston Celtics (3) vs Philadelphia 76ers (6)

The Boston Celtics lost their season series vs the Philadelphia 76ers 1-3, but that doesn’t mean much considering that the now injured all-start point guard/ power forward Ben Simmons played in all 4 of those games. Simmons went down with a dislocated knee cap in the bubble and will miss the rest of the season. The Celtics may wish Simmons all the best, but they’re most likely happy that he wont’ be playing against them. The Celtics are ranked 5th in the NBA in both scoring and defense. They score more than 113 points per game. The Celtics are 6th in steals with an average of 8.3 per game. Boston allows its opponents to shoot only 44.1% from the field and are 5th in blocks with 5.6 per game. The Celtics are lead by all-stars Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker. The two all-stars are accompanied by potential all-stars Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward. The Celtics are one of two teams teams in this league that have 4 stars, with the Portland Trailblazers being the other. Kemba Walker has averaged 22 points per game against the 76ers and he’s shooting almost 37% on 3’s against Philadelphia too. Small forward/ Power forward Jayson Tatum comes into this match up averaging 19 points per game and shooting over 40% vs the Sixers. Jaylen Brown is averaging a shade under 14 vs Philly and Gordon Hayward is averaging 14 per game against the 76ers.

Though the 76ers are missing Ben Simmons, they aren’t hurting for talent. The Sixers have a very talented group led by big man Joel Embiid. The group also includes shooting guard Josh Richardson, small forward/power forward Tobias Harris, power forward/center Al Horford, and point guard Shake Milton. Embiid is averaging better than 21 points per game against the Celtics and will prove to be difficult to guard. Celtics centers Daniel Theis, Enes Kanter, and Robert Williams will need all 18 of their combined fouls to guard Embiid. Shooting guard Josh Richardson have averaged 20 points and little over 3 assists against the Celtics this season. Celtics guard Jaylen Brown is going to have to keep a body on Richardson at all times. Shooting guard Alec Burks has also lit up the Celtics for 19 points per game, as well as shooting better than 44% from 3 against them. The former Celtic Al Horford has averaged 14 points and 4 assists against his old team.

In order for the 76ers to pull the upset over the Boston Celtics, they are going to have to feed the ball to Embiid inside. There is nobody on the Celtics who can guard Joel Embiid. Embiid is the most dominant center in the NBA since Shaquille O’Neal and is almost single-handedly keeping the position relevant in today’s game. Once the 76ers manage to pound the ball inside, they’ll get open 3 point shots for both Josh Richardson and Frank Korkmaz. Korkmaz by the way has been burning the Celtics by shooting 50% from deep against them. The 76ers should also work the ball inside to Al Horford as the Celtics will have trouble guarding him too. On defense the 76ers are ranked 12th in the league and they’re going to need to stop the Celtics’4. Jayson Tatum will be guarded by Tobias Harris and Harris can’t allow Tatum to get to his sweet spots. The Josh Richardson-Jaylen Brown match up will be key for both teams. For the Sixers, Richardson can’t allow Brown to get open 3’s. For the Celtics, Brown has to stay on Richardson like a hawk. There will also be two X factors in this series. One of them is the 76ers guard Alec Burks who averages 19 point as against the Celtics and the other is Celtics guard Marcus Smart. Smart averages a shade under 15 points per game. If either of these players Smart or Burks go off, the other team is in trouble.

For the Celtics to win, they’re going to need everything they can possibly get out of their 4 stars, and they’re going to have to shut down all the 76ers not named Emibiid. The key for the Celtics will be how well they guard against Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris, and Alec Burks. Kemba Walker will have to get all the Celtics involved on offense, while bringing his A game as well. Jayson Tatum is going to have to step up and be the man for the Celtics to move on here against a tough Philly team. He needs to score at least 25 a game in this series. Gordon Hayward and Jaylen Brown will have to elevate their games as well. Again, if all 4 Celtics star play up to their potential and if the Celtics allow only Embiid to be the focal point then they may come out victorious.

Of all the first round match ups, this one may be the most even. Both line ups are star studded and as one would imagine, the stars that shine brightest win. Let’s see how good the C’s are and why Embiid is the best center in the NBA.

Enjoy the Games!