After finishing the regular season on fire, then cruising to a 4-1 series in over the Heat in the first round, the 76ers had plenty of reason to be confident heading into their second-round series with the Celtics — especially considering how shorthanded Boston was. However, Game 1 was all Celtics. Terry Rozier (29 points) and Jayson Tatum (28 points) each had playoff career-highs, and Rozier, Tatum and Al Horford combined for 83 points as the Celtics cruised to a 117-101 win.
Now, the Sixers will try to bounce back in Game 2. It seems a given that they’ll have a better shooting night, after going just 5 of 26 from downtown in Game 1. They’ll also need to play better defense though, as they allowed too many open shots to the Celtics, especially in the second half. It will be fascinating to see how the Sixers respond to facing some adversity, which has been an unfamiliar feeling for this team over the past few months.
Despite injuries to multiple key players, the Celtics’ 55-27 regular-season record was the second best in the Eastern Conference. The 76ers, who finished with a 52-30 record, beat the Miami Heat in a convincing five games, becoming the first team in the East to move on to the second round.
No. 2 Boston Celtics (55-27) vs. No. 3 Philadelphia 76ers (52-30)
How to Watch Game
- Date: Thursday, May 3
- Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
- Location: TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts
- TV: TNT
- Live stream: TNTDrama.com or TNT App
Playoff series schedule
- Game 1 in Boston: Celtics 117, Sixers 101
- Game 2 in Boston: Thursday, May 3, 8:30 p.m. ET, TNT
- Game 3 in Philadelphia: Saturday, May 5, 5 p.m. ET, ESPN
- Game 4 in Philadelphia: Monday, May 7, 6:00 p.m. ET, TNT
- Game 5 in Boston: Wednesday, May 9, TBA, TNT (if necessary)
- Game 6 in Philadelphia: Friday, May 11, TBA, ESPN (if necessary)
- Game 7 in Boston: Sunday, May 13, TBA (if necessary)
* – If necessary
Season series: Celtics won 3-1
Last season’s playoff results: The Boston Celtics were eliminated by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals; The Philadelphia 76ers are making their first playoff appearance since the 2011-12 season.
Celtics: Jaylen Brown (hamstring) was injured inand did not return, and is listed as doubtful for Game 1. Kyrie Irving (knee), Gordon Hayward (leg) and Daniel Theis (knee) will miss the postseason.
Boston Celtics projected starting lineup: G Terry Rozier; G Marcus Smart; F Jayson Tatum; F Semi Ojeleye; C Al Horford
Philadelphia 76ers projected starting lineup: G Ben Simmons; G J.J. Redick; F Robert Covington; F Dario Saric; C Joel Embiid
Celtics win if:
The Celtics might be injured, but what they lack in talent they make up for in great coaching and execution. Boston is one of the most organized teams in the NBA and it gives the Celtics an advantage that keeps them in almost every game they play in. However, they lack the offense needed to win a shootout with the 76ers. The Celtics will need to make this series ugly with a lot of grind out games.
76ers win if:
The 76ers have the talent and athleticism to run right by the Celtics. They’re a better team on paper and they need to exploit that at every moment they can. They’ve gotten a taste of how playoff basketball works now and know how to attack mismatches. With a giant point guard like Ben Simmons, and a skilled center like Joel Embiid, there should be plenty of mismatches for the 76ers to exploit. Worst case, they need to turn every game into a run and gun shootout. Control the pace and the 76ers win this easily.
According to SportsLine data scientist Stephen Oh, the 76ers have a 79 percent chance to win the series. SportsLine will have game-by-game gambling advice for every playoff series here.