The Boston Celtics saved their 2023 NBA Playoff lives by taking a crucial Game 6 matchup over the Philadelphia 76ers by a score of 95-86. It was a lackluster performance from both sides all the way, highlighted by rough shooting statistics from both sides. For the Sixers, it was highlighted by James Harden, and arguably their worst game of the series. Harden went 4/16 from the field, including 0/6 from beyond the arc, on his way to 13 points. It was another case of inconsistency from Harden, who was lost in the Sixers’ win and lost in their loss. However, not all the blame can be put on him, as this was another non-MVP performance from Joel Embiid. Embiid had 26 points, but averaged 9/19 from the field; Once again, the dominance he showed in the regular season eluded him. Still, the Game 6 performances of Harden and Embiid indicate why the Sixers are huge underdogs in Game 7.
As of Friday, the Sixers are +225 to win the series in Game 7 and later. This comes as no surprise, as being unable to close out the series at home has put them in a precarious position for the decisive Game 7 in Boston. The Celtics are no juggernaut at home, but they certainly have momentum after avoiding elimination on the road. In general, Boston was the favorite coming into the series and was the better team during the regular season. With this kind of up and down series on both sides, a home Game 7 for the Celtics predictably makes them the favorites. If the Sixers want to make an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals, they must overcome the underdog odds.
Looking into the Game 7 matchup, the Sixers being the underdog is understandable given their poor performance in Game 6. There are three reasons in particular why the Sixers are +225 to pass the Celtics, and without further ado, here they are.
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The Philadelphia 76ers’ Lack of Playoff History
The Philadelphia 76ers are not nearly a championship caliber organization like the Boston Celtics. During the history of these two teams, the Celtics have had 16 championships while the Sixers have had two. With this in mind, the Sixers are playing without their home crowd, and within a region built on the atmosphere of playoff success. While Celtics players will head into Game 7 with playoff glory on their side, the Sixers don’t have the same aura fueling their bid for a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Despite the clout of past titles, the Sixers don’t have the same amount of pride in wearing their jerseys versus the Celtics. A Game 7 in the TD Garden meant more to the Celtics players, especially after nearly losing that opportunity before avoiding a Game 6 on the road. The Sixers could play their best game of the series on Sunday, but the Celtics legacy will give them the ability to respond to any punch thrown at them. At the end of the day, the Sixers are not only a bad team, but an underappreciated organization, which is a big reason why they are a +225 underdog.
James Harden Struggles Against The Boston Celtics
The Sixers can thank James Harden for at least two of their wins in this series. However, their aforementioned struggles in Game 6 are a big reason why they lost and now face an elimination Game 7. The Sixers being underdogs at +225 can be attributed to this performance, as obviously Vegas expects the same in Game 7. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Harden perform poorly, as the atmosphere and magnitude of Game 7 at the TD Garden is going to prove too grand for the former MVP.
Despite the struggles, Harden deserves credit for why the Sixers have a chance in the first place. His two 40-point performances in the series led the Sixers to victory, victories that would not have come if he had not shown up. However, expect the Celtics to play their most suffocating defense of the series, a formula that bothered Harden in Game 6 and will continue in Game 7. The Sixers are huge underdogs for this reason, and will most likely fall short of the Eastern Conference Finals. … As James Harden struggles to shoot the ball across the floor, he will show why the Sixers are +225 going forward.
jason tatum moment
Everyone got off to a slow start to Game 6, including Celtics star Jayson Tatum. Tatum finished the game with only 19 points, and did so on 5/21 shooting. However, he put up 16 points in the fourth quarter and was the primary reason the Celtics were able to force a Game 7. Tatum proved once again that he’s made for playoff moments, and he’ll do the same in Game 7. It has been well documented how determined Tatum is to return to the NBA Finals after last year’s loss to the Golden State Warriors. This is why the Celtics will win Game 7, as a return to the Eastern Conference Finals is very important for Tatum to lead the Sixers along the way.
It’s unfortunate for Sixers fans that Philadelphia wasn’t able to close it out in Game 6; This was actually their opportunity to be one series away from the NBA Finals. The Sixers being the underdog makes sense now, because Game 7 is the time for Jayson Tatum to have the entire city of Boston on his back. Whatever the Sixers do, it won’t be enough against Tatum. It would cap off another solid season for the Sixers, though not quite as good.