The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers renew their rivalry as these two Atlantic Division teams square off in this season opener on October 23, 2019 at the Wells Fargo Center.
Kyrie Irving is gone and just like that, another era begins in Boston. Irving was traded to the Celtics two season ago but the former #1 pick of the Cleveland Cavaliers changed his mind about signing a contract extension in Boston. Irving packed his bags and joined Kevin Durant in Brooklyn, leaving the Celtics after a disappointing 2018-19 season where they failed expectations.
The Celtics were able to sign Kemba Walker from the Charlotte Hornets to replace Irving. Walker’s offensive prowess should help offset Irving’s production but as to whether he can lead the Celtics in the playoffs, that remains to be seen. The key to Boston’s season is Gordon Hayward’s improvement. Hayward returned last season from a leg injury but was hardly a factor. If Hayward is able to return to All-Star form, Boston will be okay.
The Celtics still have two very talented forward in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Brown has never been able to fully blossom in Boston while Tatum has a sophomore slump last year. Boston also added Enes Kanter to replace Horford and they still have holdovers Marcus Smart and Semi Ojeleye. Rookie Carson Edwards is someone to watch if he is given playing time.
Odds from Spinsports as of 10/18/19
One Year Wiser
The Sixers lost Jimmy Butler to the Miami Heat and J.J Redick to the New Orleans Pelicans. While these two were key starters last season, the Sixers are still very formidable with their dynamic duo one year wiser. Joel Embiid was the league’s most dominant center last year when healthy while Ben Simmons may be a consistent jump shot away from being unstoppable.
Philly got Josh Richardson in exchange for Butler and while he may not be as solid as Jimmy was on defense, Richardson is an equally talented player with a much smaller ego. He should be able to fit well with this team. Al Horford also makes Philadelphia a more mature group. With his playoff experience and leadership, Big Al should be a key player, especially for the still growing Embiid.
The bench looks decapitated with the departure of T.J. McConnell but with the likes of Mike Scott, Kyle O’Quinn, Trey Burke and the return of Zhaire Smith, the Sixers still have a competitive group of relievers. Burke and Raul Neto should give Simmons valuable minutes of rest while Smith is an interesting piece coming off an injured rookie season.
The Celtics are 6-4 SU in their last 10 games played. Boston is 1-4 SU in their last five games against the Eastern Conference and 10-2 SU in their last 12 games played in October. The Sixers are also 6-4 SU in their last 10 games played. Philadelphia is 6-3 SU in their last nine Wednesday games played but are just 7-13 SU in their last 20 October games played. Head to head, the Celtics are 7-3 SU in their last 10 meetings against the Sixers.
When you take a look at both teams, each lost key players during the summer. Boston lost Kyrie Irving and Al Horford while Philadelphia is going to be without Jimmy Butler and J.J Redick. While missing two stars may be offsetting, Irving and Horford were Boston’s top two players last season. On the other hand, Philadelphia’s main men were Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons who are not only back this year but are expected to be one year wiser.
Kemba Walker will play a big role in Boston’s success this season as will Gordon Hayward’s improvement, if any. Hayward returned last season from a gruesome leg injury but was hardly a factor for Boston both in the regular season and the playoffs. If Hayward returns to his All-Star form, Boston should be contenders this season. If not, then they could struggle to beat the likes of the Bucks and Sixers in the playoffs.
We saw how Embiid took the playoff loss to the Bucks and we’ve also seen Ben Simmons work on his jumper during the offseason. These two studs are expected to be better this year. With the scoring of Tobias Harris and the veteran presence of Al Horford, the Sixers have a very formidable team. Horford is very familiar with Brad Stevens’ system and that will be another advantage for the 76ers. Playing this opener at home is my clincher as I think the home team wins this high-scoring game.
Prediction: Philadelphia 76ers
Other Bets to Make
Boston is 1-4 ATS in their last five games played. The Celtics are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games played on the road. Philadelphia is 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games played. The Sixers are 4-1 ATS in their last five games played at home. Head to head, the Celtics are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 meetings and Boston is 5-1 ATS in their last six road games in Philadelphia.
Odds from Spinsports as of 10/18/19
The total has gone under in six out of the last nine games played by the Celtics. The total has gone under in five out of the last six games of Boston against Atlantic Division teams. The total has gone under in seven out of the last nine games played by the Sixers. The under is also 7-2 in Philly’s last nine games against Atlantic Division opponents. Head to head, the under is 4-3 in the last seven meetings between these two teams.
The NBA betting lines aren’t out yet but the opening odds put Boston at +6 points. Losing Kyrie Irving might not hurt that badly because the Celtics are getting an equally prolific scorer in Kemba Walker. But not only did the Men in Green lose Al Horford during the summer, they lost Horford to the Sixers. Horford didn’t produce big numbers during the regular season, but he was always a key component of Boston’s playoff runs. Horford knows Brad Stevens system very well and that is to Brett Brown’s advantage. The Celtics still have plenty on talent on their team but the Sixers have their dynamic duo back and one year wiser. I think the Sixers’ chemistry and experience are going to be the keys here.
Prediction: Sixers -6
Odds Not Yet Available
These teams have combined to score 209.0 points per game in their last 10 meetings and 229.67 points per game in their last three games played. The Celtics averaged 111.37 points per game last season while the Sixers averaged 114.35 points per outing during the same period. These two teams are loaded with scorers from top to the bottom of their rotation. Although they played in many low-scoring playoff battles in the last couple of years, this is Game 1 of the 2019-20 season and defense won’t be a priority yet. I think these teams will combine to score 225 points in their season opener.