Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid (21) celebrates from the bench during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets, Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid (21) celebrates from the bench during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets, Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.|Ashley Landis | Pool via Associated Press
NBA

Here they come, Philadelphia — Greg Frank picks game 1 of the NBA Playoffs series: 76ers vs Celtics

Philadelphia 76ers @ Boston Celtics tips off at 6:30 pm on ESPN

Greg Frank

Greg Frank

Sixers (+5.5) @ Celtics (218.5)

Game time: 6:30 pm (ESPN)

Pick: Sixers +5.5

We’ll know early in this series if the Sixers have a chance. There’s two very different ways I see it playing out. Either Philly has totally tapped out on the season, as its performance in the seeding games would suggest, or the Sixers are going to regroup for the playoffs against a rival they had success against in the regular season and pull the upset. Can Joel Embiid be the best player on the floor in this series? Can Josh Richardson and Matisse Thybulle provide good enough perimeter defense on Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown even without Ben Simmons in the mix? Could Al Horford for a game or two prove to be worth the big contract he got last summer against his former team? Might Shake Milton get hot and take over a game by himself? I think all of these things are possible and especially if Embiid is the best player on the floor and Tatum and Brown are held in check, the Sixers are going to be competitive in this series and probably win it. The biggest concern is that Philly just won’t be there mentally and will not be playing hard enough which is why we’ll know early if the Sixers have a chance. If Boston gets out early both tonight and in the series, expect a short series and not much push back from Philadelphia. However, we’re betting on a locked in 76ers team tonight which is enough to take the 5.5 points and wouldn’t blame anyone that wants to take a chance on the Philly series price at 3-1 or longer.

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