Celtics vs. 76ers NBA Preview and Best Bet for Friday

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Al Horford #42 of the Boston Celtics. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images/AFP

The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers continue their storied rivalry on Friday night in Philadelphia. In a game that could have strong playoff implications, which team is the right NBA pick

Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers 

Friday, January 14, 2022 – 7:00 P.M. EST at Wells Fargo Center

Boston Celtics 

The Boston Celtics have had a disappointing start to the season but are starting to turn things around. The Celtics are currently on a three-game winning streak. Last Saturday, they beat the Knicks by 24 points. They then prevailed in a home-and-home with the Pacers. The Celtics squeaked out a victory in Boston, and then stomped the Pacers in Indiana on Wednesday night.

This is great news for Celtics fans who are worried about their teams' disappointing start. The three-game win streak improved their record to 21-21. Even though they have not played their best so far, they are still in a position to make a strong push for a high playoff seed. 

To make a playoff push, these are the types of games that the Celtics are going to have to win. Philadelphia is two games ahead of them in the standings. This is a tough matchup against their rival on the road. Both teams have had a night to rest. There are no ridiculous travel or injury implications, so this should be a game that will allow us to accurately assess where each team is at this point in the season. 

If the Celtics do not continue their improvement, they could be in for a roster shakeup. With a multitude of talented players that record should be much better than it is. Whether the blame will fall upon the coaching or the roster construction is yet to be seen. It will be interesting to see how new team president Brad Stevens assesses the situation. There are questions about Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown's ability to coexist.

Dennis Schroder may be more intent on proving that he's worth all the money that he passed up on the last offseason and just playing for himself. Marcus Smart is an integral part of this team but his defense and leadership make him attractive as a trade target if the Celtics decide to switch direction.

Celtics fans hope that none of these decisions will need to be made, but in order to keep going with the current core, they're going to need to get tough wins such as this game tonight. 

Philadelphia 76ers 

What an interesting time to be a 76ers fan. On a positive note, Joel Embiid is playing better than he has in his whole career and is making serious MVP noise again. On the other hand, the team is still at a stalemate with Ben Simmons, which is eating up a huge portion of their salary cap in a year when they should be pushing to contend.

Joel Embiid is a fantastic player, but one can assume that he will have a shorter prime because of his size and injury history. 76ers GM Daryl Morey is definitely taking a risk by not moving Simmons right away and taking advantage of Embiid's current MVP level form. 

Another positive for the season has been the development of Tyrese Maxey, currently the team's third-leading scorer. Maxey is averaging 17 points per game. He has shown an ability to get to the rim to jumpstart the offense as well as knock down the open three-point shot.

The Sixers were in the market for a guard but with Maxey's development, they might switch their eyes to getting a forward and continuing with Maxey as the floor general. Tyrese Maxey's play has definitely been a positive for the Sixers organization. 

Key Matchup 

Joel Embiid vs. Al Horford 

We spoke earlier about Embiid dominating almost every game he plays in. One of the players who has had the most success guarding Embiid over his career is definitely Al Horford. Horford always gave Embiid troubles in his first stint with the Celtics, and the 76ers tried to alleviate that by signing Horford to their team.

Unfortunately, Horford and Embiid were not a good fit, and now Horford is back with the Celtics, the place where he's enjoyed the most success over his career. While Embiid has only gotten better since Horford was last on the Celtics, Horford has lost a little bit, especially in the athleticism category. Still, Horford is one of the best defenders in the game for a player of Embiid's skillset. Horford may still have the knowledge and veteran guile to give Embiid troubles. 

If Joel Embiid proves that he can beat his former nemesis, the 76ers will be in a great position to get this important Atlantic Division victory. If Al Horford is able to stop Embiid as he did in his prime, the Celtics have a great chance to continue their win streak 

Best Bet 

This should be a close game so the 4 points of NBA odds are a gift. The Celtics have been playing better as of late, and if Horford can find his old magic, the Sixers' offense will be toothless. The Sixers have the best player, but Boston has the more complete roster. Today’s basketball pick of the day is Boston Celtics +4. 

NBA Pick: Boston Celtics +4 (-110) with BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Boston Celtics +4 (-110)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.