Philadelphia 76ers vs. Boston Celtics Preview and Pick

Philadelphia 76ers +9 (7-8) at Boston Celtics -9 (14-2) O/U 187 7:30 PM ET Friday November 28, 2008
By Jason Green at Predictem.com

Tonight the Philadelphia 76ers travel to Beantown to play the Red Hot Boston Celtics. The 76ers had high hopes for the season and many thought they would challenge the Celtics in the Atlantic Division, since they signed prized free agent Elton Brand in the off-season. However, the 76ers have been a disappointment and the main reason is that last year’s leading scorer, Andre Iguodala. Is struggling big time. Currently the 76ers are under .500, lost 2 games in a row, and are 6.5 games back of the Celtics in the Atlantic Division. The Celtics are on a roll, as they have won 6 games in a row.

This season the Celtics are 6-2 at home and the 76ers are only 2-5 on the road.

Basketball bookies have the Celtics as 9-point favorites in this game with a total around 187 points. The Celtics are posted at +400 as home favorites and the 76ers are posted at +600 as away dogs.

The Celtics come into this game after beating the Golden State Warriors 119-111 on Wednesday night. The high scorer for the Celtics in that game was Ray Allen going for 25 points on 10/17 shooting including 4/5 from beyond the 3 point arc. For the game the Celtics shot 41-87 for a FG% of 47.1%. On defense the Celtics allowed the Warriors to shoot 39-79 for a FG% of 49.4%.

The 76ers come into this game after losing to the Orlando Magic 96-94 on Wednesday night. The high scorer for the 76ers in that game was Elton Brand going for 21 points on 9/15 shooting. For the game the 76ers shot 36/81 for a FG% of 44.4%. On defense the 76ers allowed the Magic to shoot 32/68 for a FG% of 47.1%

Neither of these teams has a high scoring offense, as the Celtics rank 14th in the league in scoring (98.6 ppg) and the 76ers rank 24th (94.1 ppg). The reason the Celtics are winning is their D, as they rank 2nd in the league in points allowed (91.3 ppg) while the 76ers rank a respectable 8th (93.2 ppg). The Celtics are only allowing opposing teams to shoot a FG% of just over 40%. The 76ers are better on the glass, as they have a rebounding differential of +6.4 rpg while the Celtics are at 3.4 rpg.

This season the Celtics are 8-8 ATS and the 76ers are 6-9. In terms of Over/Under games the Celtics are 10-10 this season and the 76ers are 5-11-2.

On the injury front neither team are reporting any significant injuries.

Things have not gone as planned for the 76ers, as they are currently under .500 and in last place in the Atlantic Division. Last season SG Andre Iguodala averaged just over 20 ppg, but this season he is only averaging over 13.6 ppg and is shooting under 40% from the field. If Iguodala does not snap out of his season-long slump the 76ers will be lucky to make the playoffs.

Even though Brand is having a good season (16.9 ppg 10.1 rpg) opposing teams are packing the lane since the 76ers do not have any long-range shooters. Last season they traded away sharpshooter Kyle Korver and they signed Donyell Marshall in the off-season to shoot the 3, but he is averaging only 6.7 minutes a game and has only made 5 3 pointers so far this season.

A key for the 76ers pulling an upset in this game is not stopping the Big 3, but containing PG Rajon Rondo, who is on fire lately. He is scoring and, more importantly, he can penetrate and dish the rock out to Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. If Rando has another big tonight, the 76ers will be cooked.

76ers PG Andre Miller is having a good year (14 ppg 5.8 assists per game), but they 76ers are having trouble shooting the pill.

If the 76ers do not shoot the outside J tonight they will lose, as the Celtics will pack the paint making it harder for Brand to score.

The Celtics are rolling right now, as they have the exact same record as they did last year at this time. The 76ers need to start winning and tonight’s game is a perfect time to do it, but it won’t be easy against the defending champs.

Jason’s Pick: Take the Sixers plus the points.