The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers were supposed to contend for the Atlantic Division title this season, but both teams are looking up at the Toronto Raptors. Boston is 31-15 and 1.5 games behind Toronto as of Thursday morning, while Philadelphia has a 31-17 record and is 2.5 games behind the Raptors. These teams are each looking to close the gap and inch closer to the top spot in the Atlantic Division, and they will meet for the fourth and final time this year on Saturday.
This game will take place at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET on February 1, 2020, and the game will be broadcast on ABC.
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Head-To-Head Results to Date
The Sixers have won all three meetings between these teams to date. Boston and Philadelphia squared off in the season opener, and the Sixers cruised to a 107-93 victory behind a great performance from Ben Simmons. Simmons went 11-16 from the floor to lead all scorers with 24 points, and he nearly tallied a triple double with eight boards and nine assists. The second meeting saw Joel Embiid explode for 38 points and 13 rebounds at TD Garden, helping the Sixers nip the Celtics 115-109. The third time these teams met was just three weeks ago, and it was Josh Richardson’s time to shine. With Embiid out, the NBA betting odds were set at a pick ‘em, but Richardson scored 29 points to lead Philly to a victory.
There are a few injury concerns for both teams entering Saturday night. Center Robert Williams will definitely be out for the Celtics because of a hip issue, while Enes Kanter will be questionable to play because of a similar injury. Power forward Jayson Tatum is dealing with a groin injury, and he will be a game time decision.
Philly won’t have Richardson available for this game after he pulled his hamstring last week. He is expected to miss another week with the injury, and the Sixers will certainly miss his presence. Mike Scott will be a game time decision because of a knee injury, and former Boston Celtic Al Horford is questionable to play as well.
Player to Watch
Joel Embiid finally made his return to the court on Tuesday night against Golden State. Embiid had missed the previous three weeks recovering from a dislocated finger, and he honored the late Kobe Bryant in his return by wearing No. 24 and scoring 24 points on 9-13 shooting from the floor. The 7’0 center is one of the best big men in the NBA, and he could go off without Tatum in the lineup. Embiid is a double-double machine with 23.4 PPG and 12.3 RPG.
Will the fourth time be the charm for the Boston Celtics? The Celtics have been unable to break through and defeat the Sixers in the previous three meetings between these teams. However, Kemba Walker has been playing great and is a welcome addition to the locker room, while Tatum and Jaylen Brown are developing once again after lackluster efforts last year. The main question for the Celtics though is whether they can get anything out of their bench. Their starting five is as good as any in the Eastern Conference, but the bench leaves much to be desired.
Philadelphia is just 9-15 on the road this season, and the Sixers haven’t beaten a team with a winning record away from home since their last win over the Celtics. I don’t see Boston going winless against a divisional foe given how good the Celtics are this year, so I think Boston will finally pick up a victory.
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