With the long-awaited NBA season of 2018/19 just hours away, we will be looking at a match between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers which will take place at the home of Celtics, TD Garden. These two teams have met each other in last seasons playoffs, where we saw Celtics winning 4-1. Under the guidance of Brad Steven, they managed to do so even without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.
Looking at the home side, Boston Celtics did not make too many changes to their roster. They did loose Shane Larkin, Greg Monroe and Rodney Purvis. On the other hand, Robert Williams III joined the team from the draft. As for the upcoming match, compared to the last time these two teams met, Celtics will be happy to have Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward in their disposal. Kyrie Irving is looking like his usual self, but Hayward has been a bit of a let down in the preseason. He has scored 10,4 and 7 points in the 3 games played. He seems to be lacking confidence, or maybe he just needs time getting used to the lineups. Whichever reason is the cause of his performance we will be hoping he gets increasingly better with each passing game, however, I don’t see him blowing up tonight. Looking at the 4 preseason matches Celtics played, they have only won 1 against Charlotte Hornets (115:112). On the other hand, they lost against Hornets in the opening game of the season (104:97), and 2 games against Cleveland Cavaliers (95:102) and (113:102).
The visiting team, Philadelphia 76ers are stepping into this season without Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli. On the other hand, they have added Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala and Landry Shamet alongside Zhaire Smith from the draft. However, Chandler won’t be playing today due to the hamstring injury. 76ers will be happy with Markelle Fultz back in the starting lineup after missing most of the last season. The plan of the 76ers coach is to start Fultz so he can ease him into the lineup with JJ Redick. Regarding Fultz performance in the preseason, It’ was clear he is comfortable moving without the ball but is somewhat hesitant to shoot threes (making only 1 out of 5 attempts). This decision will most likely hurt 76ers offensive strength in the match against Celtics. If they decide to put Fultz instead of Redick into the starting lineup, they can expect to lose some of the 3 point threat, which will be a problem against a strong defensive team like Celtics. Ben Simmons, despite showing great improvement in his basketball IQ did not develop his 3pt shooting, and same can be said for his jump shot. This leaves only Dario Saric and Robert Covington as 2 players capable of causing some threat from the outside, however, Covington has been shut down by the Celtics before and we do expect this to happen once more tonight. Looking at how Philadelphia 76ers played in the preseason, they did win 2 out of 3 games played. Orlando Magic (120:114) and Dallas Mavericks (120:114) were both defeated, whereas, in the 2nd meeting with Dallas Mavericks, Philadelphia fell short of 3 points (112:115).
With not many changes in neither of the teams and returning key players, this should be an entertaining 1st match of the season. As mentioned, Philadelphia 76ers will have some problems scoring against Celtics if they approach with Fultz in the 1st lineup. Even with other excellent scorers, I don’t see them putting up many points against a great defensive team like Celtics. On the other side, Gordon Hayward seems to be lacking confidence which will hurt his scoring. In addition, Stevens said he will limit Hayward to 25 minutes just so the team can get a feel of their lineups. As with most of the 1st games of the season, the teams are still getting used to their lineups so we can not expect any team to blow up and run over the other. With some offensive issues on both sides and great defense of each team, we expect this one to end under 209 points in total.
Prediction: Under 209 points
Odds: 2.11 Pinnacle, Matchbook
Alternative: Under 210 points, 2.01 Pinnacle