The Boston Celtics play their most important game of the season on Sunday afternoon, as they’ll take on the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
The C’s were down in the series 3-2, but after tying it up in Game 6 they have an opportunity to advance in front of their home crowd. Boston hasn’t protected home court well this postseason, as it has a 3-3 record at TD Garden, yet the Green Team will break the tie if they can deliver a huge win in Beantown this Sunday.
This Game 7 is also extremely significant for the Sixers. Philadelphia hasn’t made it to the Eastern Conference Finals in over 20 years, and a second-round exit this season could bring some big changes to the team’s makeup. The Sixers aren’t afraid to play in Boston. though, as they’re 2-1 there this series.
No matter how you look at it, this game is monumental for both franchises. So, let’s delve into the final showdown of the season between these two old rivals with three bold Celtics predictions ahead of Game 7 versus the Philadelphia 76ers.
3. The Celtics won’t hold Joel Embiid under 30 points
Sixers MVP Joel Embiid has looked unstoppable at times in this year’s playoffs. Once he gets to his spot down low, he can bully his way to the basket or hit a fadeaway jumper that seems to go in more often than not.
Despite that, Embiid attempted zero shots in the final three minutes of Game 6. Philly’s fourth-quarter offense stalled and Boston was able to extend the series thanks to some big shots from Celtics star Jayson Tatum.
“I think it was 3 things. We had a lot of wide open shots, we didn’t make them. We stopped moving the ball. I don’t think I touched the ball the last 4 minutes of the game… I didn’t touch the ball at all.”
Joel Embiid on the Sixers late-game offensepic.twitter.com/w6kIMAyzx1
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) May 12, 2023
In Game 7, Philly will likely learn from its mistake and feed Embiid. Of course, the Sixers also have formidable scorers in James Harden and Tyrese Maxey, yet they’ll want to get their MVP going early.
The Celtics have slowed Embiid down a bit at times, however, they haven’t really been able to stop him. He’s averaging 27.6 points per outing in this series and has scored more than 30 points in three out of the five games he’s played.
In hopes of showing Embiid some size, Boston will probably opt for a double-big lineup with Robert Williams III and Al Horford. That strategy worked pretty well in Game 6, but the Sixers will obviously have some adjustments for Game 7.
Although holding the 2023 MVP under 30 points will be extremely difficult, the Celtics can still survive a 30-point game. It’ll require outstanding defense on the rest of Philly’s rotation and a big game from both of Boston’s brightest stars.
2. Jaylen Brown puts up more than 20 shot attempts
Celtics star Jaylen Brown has finally taken off his mask, yet he hasn’t really looked like himself.
The two-time All-Star averaged more than 20 shot attempts per game in the regular season, but he’s only put up 15 per game in this series. Even though Tatum is typically the center of Boston’s offense, Brown is just as important in setting the tone for the Celtics.
He had 17 points on 6-0f-13 shooting from the field in Game 6. And while that’s acceptable efficiency, none of those points came in the fourth quarter. The Celtics will need Tatum and Brown at the top of their games for Sunday’s matchup, as they can’t have their stars disappearing for lengthy stretches.
Hopefully Brown uses the energy of TD Garden to stay aggressive (but in control) in Game 7.
Jaylen Brown: “Energy in the Garden has been OK at best in the playoffs.”
He just called for Boston to bring it.
“I’m calling you guys out. Let’s make sure the Garden is ready to go. … When the Garden gets going there’s nothing like it.”
— Jay King (@ByJayKing) May 12, 2023
1. Al Horford makes more than three triples
Veteran big man Al Horford has hit a lot of crucial shots for Boston throughout his career. In this series, though, he’s been off his game. Horford is 4-for-21 from the field in his last three outings and a brutal 2-for-16 from beyond the arc.
Much has been made of Jayson Tatum’s slow 1st Qtr’s and it has been brutal
Al says hold my beer
FG – (3-21, .143)
3P – (1-12, .083)
2P – (2-9, .222)
— Boston Sports Info (@bostonsportsinf) May 13, 2023
The 3-point battle is often paramount to Boston’s success, so the Green Team will need Horford and company to connect on their open looks. The 36-year-old has shown that he can be effective from deep, as he made five of his seven triples en route to a Game 4 win. If that Horford comes to play during Game 7, the C’s will be in a much better position to move on.
Ultimately, the Celtics have the potential to advance, they’ve just lacked the consistency at times. They’ll have to live up to their capabilities on Sunday if they want to send a hungry and talented Sixers squad home.
The post 3 bold Celtics predictions for Game 7 vs. Sixers appeared first on ClutchPoints.