The 76ers have been without their star man Joel Embiid for a number of games since the All-Star break. He returned to action in their victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves but sat out of their loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Philadelphia 76ers have been in impressive form since the All-Star break despite the continued absence of Joel Embiid. Ben Simmons has seen a drop in form, but Tobias Harris has produced big performances for the team.
Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics have failed to live up to expectations for much of the season. They are eighth in the Western Conference with a 25-25 record. They have all their key players available for this matchup, with the likes of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown displaying top form in recent weeks.
In Shake Milton, the Philadelphia 76ers have one of the best bench players this season. But the same can also be said about the Boston Celtics’ Evan Fournier, who has been impressive for his new team.
Philadelphia 76ers vs Boston Celtics - Prediction
With Joel Embiid returning for this match, the Philadelphia 76ers will have all their key stars available. But even in the absence of their big man, the 76ers have managed to ascend to the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Boston Celtics, meanwhile, have been scrappy at best and have struggled for consistency all season. However, Marcus Smart’s injury troubles seem to be behind him for the time being, with Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum also fit for the Boston Celtics.
Evan Fournier’s move to the Boston Celtics seems to have solved the team's problem of offensive depth.
He has produced 40 points in his last two appearances off the bench and will be expected to continue his recent form. However, the Boston Celtics have been average in defence in many matches and could have a difficult time against the Philadelphia 76ers.
The 76ers are the clear favorites to win this match, especially with the return of Joel Embiid.
On that note, let's have a look at a hypothetical combined 5 of the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics.
Philadelphia 76ers vs Boston Celtics - Combined 5
Point Guard – Ben Simmons l Shooting Guard – Kemba Walker l Small Forward – Jayson Tatum l Power Forward – Jaylen Brown l Center – Joel Embiid.
In this hypothetical lineup, Ben Simmons starts as the point guard. His defensive impact and playmaking skills have been on full display all season.
Simmons is the third-most prolific scorer in the Philadelphia 76ers lineup this campaign and is averaging over 15 points per game. He takes up one of the guard positions over teammate Seth Curry and the Boston Celtics’ Marcus Smart.
Kemba Walker have had a few poor games in recent weeks and hasn’t been shooting well from the 3-point zone. He has had his injury troubles this season but is still averaging over 17 points along with 4.8 assists and 1.1 steals per game.
Meanwhile, Jayson Tatum’s recent form means he virtually walks into this hypothetical lineup at the small forward position. He has struck form in recent weeks, despite the Boston Celtics’ recent poor form, as he looks set to lead his team to the playoffs this season.
His partner at the power forward position would be Jaylen Brown, who has also been impressive despite missing many games this season. The two Boston Celtics forwards combined for 49 points in their last game and will need another big performance to see off a dominant Philadelphia 76ers team.
At the center position, Joel Embiid is a no-brainer. He is in contention for both the NBA MVP and the defensive player of the year award, producing incredible numbers all season. His return is a huge boost for the Philadelphia 76ers, who aim to go all the way this year.