The happening Sixers will look for their third win in a row when the reeling, arch rival, Celtics come to town for first time this season. The Sixers are in a double-revenge situation, having lost twice to the C’s on the road this year.
So much has changed since their opening night loss when Robert Covington, Dario Saric and Markelle Fultz made up 3/5 of the starting lineup – and the Sixers at 4.5 point dogs were beaten handily by 18. Things were closer with Jimmy Butler in the starting five on Christmas Day, however, the 76ers still lost in OT as a 5 point dog – 121-114.
A huge question mark for Boston will be the status and health of PG Kyrie Irving, who went for 40 points in the Christmas Day game. Irving sprained his right knee in Saturday’s loss to the Clippers, when Boston blew a 28 point lead at home, their biggest blown lead since December 2003! Boston’s FG percentage has already dropped from 55% to 33% in Kyrie’s absence.
The Sixers have looked like an offensive juggernaut since adding 6’9” forward, Tobias Harris to the starting lineup. Harris has accounted for 36 points, 14 rebounds and 9 assists in his first two games as a 76er.
Neither squad has been particularly good this season against the spread (ATS), but Boston is a meager 9-16-1 ATS on the road and has lost 3 straight against the number. Boston enters the game on two days of rest, a situation where they are 3-4 ATS on the season.
The numerous roster changes are gelling early for Philly while Boston’s locker room appears to be splintering. Given that Irving is “day-to-day” with only two games remaining until All Star break, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kyrie sit this one out. However, regardless of Kyrie’s status, I expect a spirited effort from the Sixers in front of a raucous home crowd helping the home team to a win and point spread cover.
The Pick – PHI (-5.5)
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