The Boston Celtics saved their season by taking a pivotal Game 6 matchup over the Philadelphia 76ers by a score of 95-86. It was a sluggish performance from both sides the entire way, highlighted by rough shooting stats on both sides. None were worse than Jayson Tatum, who scored only 19 points on 5/21 shooting. However, he scored 16 of those points in the fourth quarter, leading the charge for the Celtics in forcing a Game 7. With the series now tied and heading back to Boston, the Celtics are now back in the drivers seat as favorites to win Sunday’s game over the Sixers.
As of right now, the Celtics are -275 to win Game 7 and the series. It is a huge swing after being big underdogs before Game 6. There were moments in Game 6 where it looked like the Sixers were on their way to advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals, but Tatum’s fourth quarter ultimately sealed the deal for Boston. The Celtics also received a big performance from Marcus Smart, one who is usually not filling up the scoresheet. Smart had 22 points on 8/15 shooting to go along with 7 assists, playing great point guard throughout the contest.
Looking ahead to the Game 7 matchup, it is no surprise that the Celtics are favorites with the series tied. In particular, there are three reasons why the Celtics are favored to win. So, what are those three reasons?
The Celtics are -275 to win Game 7 and the series, and here are three reasons why.
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*Lines via Fanduel
*Stats via ESPN
Boston Celtics’ playoff history
There is no doubt that the Boston Celtics are a more prestigious organization than the Philadelphia 76ers. In general, the playoff success between these two franchises cannot really be compared; the Celtics have 16 championships while the Sixers have two. With that in mind, the Celtics are playing for another chance at the Eastern Conference Finals with their home crowd and arena on their side. The history of the jerseys on their backs will propel them passed the Sixers, as they have a championship repertoire to maintain.
Past titles don’t actually make a difference when determining game outcomes, but there is undoubtedly a pride in wearing a Celtics uniform. Wanting to withhold the legacy that comes with playing for the Celtics means showing up in these exact moments; a Game 7 at TD Garden is what playing for the Boston Celtics is all about. No matter what the Sixers could do, the Celtics have a tangible advantage with the energy their circumstance will provide them. They are a better team and a better organization, which is a huge reason they are -275 to win.
Philadelphia 76ers’ James Harden struggles
James Harden has been both the reason the Sixers have won and lost games in this series. In Game 6, he had one of his worst outings, and subsequently the Sixers struggled on offense and lost. Harden went 4/16 from the field, including 0/6 from the 3-point line, on his way to 13 points. This is simply not a sustainable performance for Sixers’ wins, and unfortunately can be expected by Sixers fans in Game 7. The moment is going to prove too big, and Harden is going to have another rough showing.
Harden has proven in this series he can still be the scorer he once was, and is a major reason these teams are meeting in a decisive Game 7. However, with the season on the line and the energy of TD Garden behind them, the Celtics are going to be suffocating and swarming on defense. This is going to make the biggest difference in Harden’s game, as he will struggle again like he did in Game 6. In the end, the Sixers will have put forth a valiant effort, but will fall short of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics are understandably favorites for Game 7 with the most likely struggles from James Harden on the way.
Jayson Tatum’s moment
Despite the slow start in Game 6, Jayson Tatum proved he was built for playoff moments. His 16 fourth quarter points were pivotal in forcing a Game 7, and now he has an opportunity to be the biggest star in a closeout game. After losing in the NBA Finals last season, it has been well documented how determined Tatum is to return to the NBA’s biggest stage. This will motivate him to have a big performance in Game 7 and bring the Celtics back to the Eastern Conference Finals in consecutive seasons.
Tatum having a big outing in Game 7 can be expected given the 5/21 performance in Game 6. He might have had a gargantuan fourth quarter, but a complete outing will be necessary for the Celtics to beat the Sixers. Fortunately for all of Boston, this will be the case and he should lead the Celtics to a victory. Jayson Tatum getting ready for another defining performance of his career is the last reason why the Celtics are big favorites at -275 to win this series.
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