The second-seeded Boston Celtics are set to face off against the third-seeded Philadelphia 76ers in the second round. Will Joel Embiid be available at any point in this series? Can the Celtics return to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second consecutive season? Find all the information you need to know heading into this matchup below, including a prediction.
Regular Season Matchups
76ers at Celtics: 10/18/2022
Result: Celtics 126-117 76ers
Celtics F Jayson Tatum: 35 points, 13-for-20 shooting, 12 rebounds, four assists
76ers G James Harden: 35 points, 9-for-14 shooting, 5-for-9 shooting from three, seven assists
76ers at Celtics: 2/8/2023
Result: Celtics 106-99 76ers
Celtics G Derrick White: 19 points, 8-for-13 shooting, 3-for-6 shooting from three, six rebounds
76ers C Joel Embiid: 28 points, 11-for-21 shooting, seven rebounds, two steals, one block
Celtics at 76ers: 2/25/2023
Result: Celtics 110-107 76ers
Celtics G Jaylen Brown: 26 points, 10-for-21 shooting, 2-for-4 shooting from three, three steals
76ers C Joel Embiid: 41 points, 12-for-21 shooting, 17-for-18 shooting from the line
Celtics at 76ers: 4/4/2023
Result: 76ers 103-101 Celtics
76ers C Joel Embiid: 52 points, 20-for-25 shooting, 13 rebounds, six assists
Celtics G Derrick White: 26 points, 9-for-18 shooting, seven rebounds, four assists
How Philadelphia Can Win:
The 76ers can win this series if Joel Embiid is not only on the floor, but playing at an MVP level. Philadelphia was able to win without their superstar in Game 4 of the first-round against the Brooklyn Nets, but this Celtics team is far more talented. The margin for error is much slimmer against Boston, and that is in a scenario where Embiid plays.
James Harden played very well in the first round, averaging 17.3 points on 34.3 percent shooting, 42.4 shooting from three and 8.8 assists. The guard has to be a more efficient scorer, especially on mid-range shots. Harden is an elite playmaker, but the 76ers need him to average 20-22 points if they want to advance past the Celtics.
How Boston Can Win:
The Celtics will win this series if they are able to protect home court. Boston was great at TD Garden in the regular season, owning a 32-9 record on their home floor. They won three of their four games at home in their first-round series with the Atlanta Hawks. Boston will need more of that in order to advance past the 76ers.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will get theirs, but the complimentary pieces will decide how the Celtics will fare against Philadelphia. Marcus Smart averaged 16.7 points on 49.3 percent shooting in the first round. Can he continue to score at that level? How about Malcolm Brogdon, who scored 13.3 points per game on 44.8 percent shooting versus the Hawks? The Celtics need their secondary options to be effective if they want to get to advance.
Series Prediction: Boston Celtics over the Philadelphia 76ers in five games
The length as well as the result of this series will be determined by the availability of Joel Embiid. If the superstar is able to return to the court for Game 3 and Game 4 in Philadelphia, the 76ers may have a chance to advance. But with his status being a complete unknown, it is hard to trust the rest of the team to hold it down in his absence. The Celtics have two stars in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, both of which will shine in the series. Boston has the deeper team, and it will show, as they will advance in five games.
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