The second round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs is officially off and running, and it has already created some memorable moments. Franchises are now a step closer to taking home the Larry O’Brien Trophy, but there is still a long way to go. With the Philadelphia 76ers set to travel to face the Boston Celtics on Tuesday, it means it is time for some Sixers Game 5 bold predictions.
Philadelphia finished with a 54-28 record, a three-win improvement from the previous year, and secured the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. This was also the franchise’s best regular-season campaign since its 56-win season in 2001 when Allen Iverson won MVP and led Philadelphia to the NBA Finals.
On the other side of the matchup, the Celtics went 57-25 in the regular season, finishing as the No. 2 seed in the East. It represented a six-win improvement compared to the previous year and also earned the team the second-best record in the entire league, trailing only Milwaukee Bucks at 58-24.
In Game 1, the Sixers surprised the Celtics with a 119-115 win at the TD Garden without MVP Joel Embiid. Boston would then win the next two contests, including one on the road. Most recently, Philadelphia had a 116-115 overtime victory at home on Sunday.
Now back at the TD Garden, things could be very difficult for the Sixers. With the series tied at 2-2, this matchup could be decisive for both teams’ fates.
With all this in mind, here are some bold predictions for the Philadelphia 76ers for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Boston Celtics on Tuesday.
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3. Philadelphia holds either Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown to at most 20 points
With such a crucial Game 5 coming up, the Celtics will need everything they can get from their stars. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are coming off the best years of their respective careers and have continued to make a big impact in the postseason.
Tatum ended up earning his fourth consecutive All-Star selection and was in the MVP conversation throughout the season. Brown received his second All-Star nod and could make an All-NBA team for the first time in his seven-year career.
In Game 1, Tatum had a team-best 39 points on 14-for-25 shooting with 11 rebounds and five assists. He also had a 24-point, 18-rebound double-double in Game 5. Brown notably scored 20-plus points in all five contests so far.
So far in the playoffs, Tatum and Brown are scoring 26 and 25.4 points a contest, respectively. Both players are shooting better than 45% from the field, with Brown even hitting 47.3% of his 3-pointers.
If the Sixers want to win on the road, it starts by containing the duo. The bold prediction is that either Tatum or Brown will finish the day with at most 20 points.
2. Joel Embiid and James Harden combine for 60+ points
As for the Sixers, they also have a duo that could make a big difference in Game 5. Both Joel Embiid and James Harden had big performances in Game 4, which could be good momentum for both of them.
The big man had a double-double with 34 points and 13 assists plus four assists and a steal. He shot 11-for-26 from the field and 12-for-15 from the free-throw line.
After a playoff career-best 45 points in Game 1, Harden had only 28 in the next two games combined. However, he bounced back on Sunday with 42 points, nine assists, and eight boards plus four steals. He went 16-for-23 from the field with six successful 3-pointers, including the game-winner in overtime.
Since both players are coming off big games, fans should expect them to keep being the team’s main offensive threats. Because of that, the bold prediction is that Embiid and Harden will combine for 60-plus points. Should that happen, Philadelphia will be in a solid position to steal Game 5 at the TD Garden.
1. This is at most a 10-point game
Following Sunday’s contest, this series has emerged as one of the best from this year’s postseason. Both teams have already won on the road and faced overtime, meaning Game 5 could be another one for the history books.
According to FanDuel, the Celtics are the favorites to win this matchup. Currently, the spread is -7, which is the largest among all games with their odds already announced. For comparison, Game 4 opened with a Boston favoritism of -3.
With Embiid and Harden on a hot momentum and Tatum and Brown having career years, Game 5 should be another thriller. The bold prediction is that, just like Games 1 and 4, this will be at most a 10-point contest. Additionally, it would not be a surprise if both teams need overtime to determine who will open a 3-2 lead in the series.