76ers vs Celtics: NBA London Game Sportsbook Odds, Picks
London will host two of the most exciting teams in the Eastern Conference on Thursday. The matchup will be the eighth-ever regular-season game in the UK, and more will surely follow as the NBA continues to globalize the league.
Both teams enter the game with hot streaks. The Eastern Conference-leading Celtics (33-10) have won six in a row, while a four-game win streak has the 76ers (19-19) gaining ground in the standings (they’re currently ninth in the East).
For bettors in the United States, tip off is at 3 pm EST — so get wagers in early! Follow all the action on BT Sport’s Facebook page, which will live stream the contest. Here’s our preview of the must-see game, with all odds coming from Bovada!
Over/under 209 points: Philadelphia 76ers vs Boston Celtics (-3)
A horrific injury to Gordon Hayward has done nothing to stop the Celtics’ ascent up the NBA hierarchy. Behind the fiery Kyrie Irving, Boston holds a three-game advantage over second-place Toronto and five-and-a-half games over Irving’s ex-team Cleveland halfway through the season.
It hasn’t been all Irving, though. Rookie Jayson Tatum has delivered and then some. The third-overall pick is averaging 13.9 points per game and is wowing on the defensive end. With Tatum’s efforts, Boston is giving up a league-low 97.6 points per game.
Stalwart defense has made up for Boston’s subpar offense. At a meager 102.7 points per game, the Celtics rank 22th across the league. They’ll obviously have to be better once the postseason rolls around.
Philadelphia has superstar youngsters of their own, two of them actually (and possibly a third, Markelle Fultz, emerging later). Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons have the 76ers threatening to make the postseason for the first time since 2012.
The on-and-off again Embiid really is the key for the 76ers. With him on the court, the Sixers average 109.3 points per 100 possessions. Without him, that number plummets to 100.2 points — an entire nine-point difference.
It remains the case on defense. With the seven-foot Embiid on the floor, Philadelphia is allowing 99.3 points per 100 possessions. That figure skyrockets to 107 points when Embiid is on the bench. Both stats show Embiid makes a LeBron-like difference, one very few players in the NBA can lay claim to.
To perhaps the chagrin of Tatum, Simmons is the runaway frontrunner to win NBA Rookie of the Year. He’s a do-it-all player that is averaging 16.9 points, 8.4 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game this season. The offense runs through the hands of Simmons, and he’s delivering in bunches.
Philadelphia is averaging 108.6 points per game this year — sixth-best in the NBA. The offense has been especially potent the past four games, scoring an average of 114 in the four wins. Credit Simmons’ almost-superhero like passing vision for those successes.
Boston has had Philly’s number this year, winning the two previous matchups by double digits. Embiid missed the second game, but was uncharacteristically bad during the first meeting. He finished with 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting (including 0-6 from three-point range).
Irving went off for 36 points in the game Embiid sat. Replicating that performance with Embiid present won’t be easy on Thursday, though.
Playing in front of a fresh audience, expect both teams and their respective superstars to try and leave their mark during the international game. Plus, neither will be playing with fatigue, as both teams have been overseas for a few days now. Irving and Embiid will shine bright and catapult this game past the over set at 209 points.
We also like Boston to cover three points. They remain the Eastern Conference gold standard (until Cleveland flips their on-switch during the postseason) and have had plenty of success against Philly this season already. That continues on Thursday in a high-flying game.
Pick: Boston (-3) and over
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