In the first game of the 2022-2023 NBA season, the Philadelphia 76ers will be traveling to TD Garden to take on the reigning Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics. Both teams are projected to sit atop the East once again this season, and this game could be a decent projection to how these two groups fare against one another this upcoming year.
The Celtics will be going into this game without both Robert Williams III and Danilo Gallinari, while Philadelphia goes into the opener fully healthy. Derrick White will start in place of Williams, with guard Malcolm Brogdon handling sixth man duties. Philadelphia will roll out a starting group of Tyrese Maxey, James Harden, Tobias Harris, P.J. Tucker, and Joel Embiid.
Despite Ime Udoka not coaching for Boston, expect them to operate the same as last season. Both their offensive and defensive schemes are proven to work, and there’s no reason to fix it if it’s not broken. The Celtics have a versatile group of defenders from top to bottom, and a bench unit of Brogdon, Payton Pritchard, and Grant Williams gives them a wide variety of options on both ends.
It’ll be interesting to see how Philadelphia runs their offense. Maxey showed exceptional strides in the preseason, but will they use him as their secondary scoring option with Harden prioritizing the playmaking duties? Or will Harden be used as the prime perimeter scoring option?
Keys To A Philadelphia Victory
If the 76ers hope to come out on top, they’ll need a balanced attack offensively. It’ll be flowing through Embiid per usual, but there has to be a proper structure on the perimeter. The best option would be to have Maxey serve as the primary guard creator, finding openings without the ball frequently. His combination of explosiveness and quickness will make him lethal. If he can relocate consistently off of screens, it’ll give him openings to find the ball on the perimeter and attack instantaneously.
With Maxey as the primary scoring option, Harden needs to resort to being a playmaker. He’ll need help from the likes of Embiid, Tucker, and Paul Reed to set strong and proper screens. This will help him get into the lane much easier and find openings for off-ball movers in Harris and Maxey.
Finally, they’ll need Tucker to prioritize his energy on the defensive end. He’ll be the one taking on the Jayson Tatum assignment. If they can find a way to slow the 24-year-old star down, this game should be smooth sailing for them on the road. With the offensive plan presented above combined with them slowing down their offensive engine, that’s all Philadelphia needs to come out on top.
Keys To A Boston Victory
The Celtics need to stick to what made them successful last season to take the win. Williams was a big part of their master defensive schemes, but they can still hope to find a way to replace his value. They’ll need Al Horford to take the job as the paint protector, while Tatum plays the roamer role defensively. Both can play these roles at a high level, as Horford does a terrific job staying vertical at the rim, while Tatum can play great help and team defense while making consistent and efficient rotations. For the other three on the court, they’ll simply need to read screens and rotate as quickly as possible with Philadelphia’s fast flowing offense.
Another big factor will be the Tatum-Horford connections. A coherent pick and roll game with a pick and pop game will be needed to open up the floor for them, as well as the others on the floor. Some strong screens will also help Tatum get to the rim more, which leads into the final massive factor for a Boston win.
Something Tatum can do at a high level, yet seems too passive to do, is slash to the rim. A wing with his size, strength, and quickness should prioritize this over anything else. If Tatum can prove this idea of passiveness wrong and will his way to the rim consistently against Philadelphia, it will allow for many things. Embiid will get into early foul trouble, Tatum will get to the line way more, and he’ll be able to get easy buckets while dropping easy passes off to cutters. The way Tatum controls this offense will be key to the outcome of the game.
The Spread via FanDuel-
Moneyline: PHI: (+114) | BOS: (-138)
Spread: PHI: +2.5 (-110) | BOS: -2.5 (-110)
Total: 215.5 — Over: (-110) | Under: (-110)
Score Prediction- 76ers 108, Celtics 103