Celtics vs. 76ers: The best player prop bets for Feb. 15
With the trade deadline firmly in the rearview mirror, the league’s contenders are now fixed solely on positioning themselves for a deep postseason run. Tonight’s matchup, featuring one of the NBA’s premier rivalries in the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics, could loom large in terms of future playoff seeding.
The Celtics come in winners of eight straight, transforming from first-round fodder into legitimate threat. The Sixers, having finally resolved the Ben Simmons situation, have to find a way to tread water until James Harden’s arrival bolsters their playmaking. The stakes couldn’t be higher with less than two games separating Boston and Philadelphia in the standings.
Celtics vs. Sixers is on TNT tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET, and we have the three best player prop bets for you below.
Wed, February 16 2022, 12:30 AM
JOEL EMBIID OVER/UNDER 4.5 ASSISTS
Whether he wins MVP or not, Joel Embiid is having an outrageous season. One of the biggest reasons why is that he’s taken a monster jump as a primary playmaker. Per Cleaning the Glass, Embiid has a career-high 25.6% assist percentage, a quantum leap from 15.6% last season.
But it takes two to make an assist. And while the Harden-Embiid pairing makes for an intriguing playmaking duo, both capable of creating their own offense as well as working off the catch, dribble hand offs, or even spot ups - Harden remains sidelined with a hamstring injury. In the short term, that means the Sixers are a whole lot worse offensively because in order to trade for Harden, they’ve sacrificed their main non-Embiid offensive release valve in Seth Curry.
Curry, true to his family name, has developed into a panic-inducing shooter. Teams don’t have to just honor him beyond the arc, they have to have a requisite level of fear. All it takes is for an opponent to get a bit too comfortable and suddenly Curry is shaking free off a screen or an Iverson cut and raining death from 3.
Embiid had become a master this season of creating pressure towards the basket and finding Curry all over the floor. Without Curry, and for now, without Harden, their shooting is incredibly limited. Tyrese Maxey has shown great strides as an outside shooter, but there are very few that can replicate the diversity of Curry’s shooting combined with his volume. And Matisse Thybulle is only slightly more threatening than Ben Simmons from beyond the arc.
Facing a more cramped floor, and a plethora of rangy wings, Embiid will find much more success as a scorer than a passer tonight.
TYRESE MAXEY OVER/UNDER 16.5 POINTS
It’s hard to remember already, but the Boston Celtics’ defense was shaky to start this season. In short order though, they’ve become the monster many of us suspected they could be, and they’re just getting better.
By adding Derrick White to go with Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Robert Williams they have created one of the most imposing perimeter defenses in the NBA, capable of switching or conventional drop defenses and anything in between. Their length and commitment to bothering ballhandlers is no longer dependent on whether they are playing their starters or their bench, and their lineups promise 48 minutes of hell for opposing guards and wings.
Maxey has had an outstanding season and continues to show great promise for Philadelphia. But this Celtics lineup is more or less designed to bully players with his frame and skillset, and it’s difficult to see how he scores enough to go Over his projected point total tonight.
ROBERT WILLIAMS OVER/UNDER 22.5 POINTS, REBOUNDS, AND ASSISTS
In some quarters there was skepticism about Brad Stevens’ decision to lock Williams up to a lucrative long-term extension this past offseason. Not because Williams wasn’t an incredible talent, but because of his inability to stay on the floor. Well, those critics are eating their words now, as in a year full of uncertainty, Williams has been a model of consistency. He’s seen his production and overall efficiency rise even as his minutes have jumped from 18.9 per game last year to 30.0 this season.
Williams has always thrived around the basket, on offense and defense, and that continues to be true. He scores an absurd 73.3% of his shot attempts, with 80% of his shots coming right at the rim. And while his rebounding hasn’t quite matched his previously absurd per minute totals, he’s averaging 9.7 on the season.
Over his last five games, Williams is averaging 11.6 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 1.8 assists. In a game where the Celtics will absolutely need him on the court to guard Embiid, he should have ample opportunity to match or exceed those totals tonight.