The second round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs is coming down to the wire, and the next games should be determinant for the fate of many teams. The Larry O’Brien Trophy is getting closer and closer, but there is still a long way to go. With the Philadelphia 76ers set to host the Boston Celtics on Thursday, it means it is time for some Sixers Game 6 bold predictions.
Philadelphia finished with a 54-28 record, a three-win improvement from the previous year, and secured the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. This was also the franchise’s best regular-season campaign since its 56-win season in 2001 when Allen Iverson won MVP and led Philadelphia to the NBA Finals.
On the other side of the matchup, the Celtics went 57-25 in the regular season, finishing as the No. 2 seed in the East. It represented a six-win improvement compared to the previous year and also earned the team the second-best record in the entire league, trailing only the already eliminated Milwaukee Bucks at 58-24.
In Game 1, the Sixers surprised the Celtics with a 119-115 win at the TD Garden without MVP Joel Embiid. Boston would then win the next two contests, including one on the road. Philadelphia followed it with a 116-115 overtime victory at home. Most recently, the Sixers once again won on the road, this time 115-103 on Tuesday.
With a chance of clinching the series, Philadelphia only needs one win at home to go to the conference finals. With all this in mind, here are some bold predictions for the Philadelphia 76ers for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Boston Celtics on Thursday.
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3. Philadelphia forces 8+ turnovers from Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined
With the season on the line, Boston will need everything it can get from its stars. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are coming off the best years of their careers and have continued to make a big impact in the postseason.
Tatum ended up earning his fourth consecutive All-Star selection and was in the MVP conversation throughout the season. Brown received his second All-Star nod and could make an All-NBA team for the first time in his seven-year career.
So far in the playoffs, Tatum and Brown are scoring 26.9 and 25.3 points a contest, respectively. Both players are shooting better than 45 percent from the field, with Brown even hitting 47.5 percent of his 3-pointers.
One way of perhaps limiting their impact is by forcing turnovers. The duo leads the team in lost possessions with Tatum turning the ball over 2.4 times per contest and Brown 3.1.
The bold prediction is that the Sixers will explore that area by forcing eight-plus turnovers by Tatum and Brown combined.
2. Joel Embiid goes off with a 30-point double-double for Philadelphia 76ers
As for the Sixers, Joel Embiid is the player to keep an eye on. After winning an MVP-winning regular season, the big man is dealing with injuries in the postseason. Still, he is playing a big role in Philadelphia’s 3-2 lead in the series.
In four postseason games against the Celtics, Embiid is averaging 28 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists. He is also blocking 3.3 shots per game. He is shooting 44.2 percent from the field, 28.6 percent from beyond the arc and 87 percent from the free-throw line.
Following a quiet performance in Game 2 with just 15 points in his first game back from injury, Embiid managed to hit the 30-point mark in the next three games. Most notably, he had a double-double with 34 points and 13 assists plus four assists and a steal in Game 4. The Sixers won by one point in overtime, meaning every little thing he did mattered in the end.
Should Embiid have another big game, Philadelphia will be in a good position to close out the series. Expect him to finish with another 30-point double-double, impacting on both sides of the floor.
1. Sixers close out the series 4-2
At the end of the day, it is difficult to ignore the momentum the Sixers have right now. They managed to win a thrilling Game 4 in overtime with a last-minute 3-pointer by James Harden. Then, they went to the TD Garden to upset the Celtics in Game 5.
According to FanDuel, even with two consecutive losses, Boston is the favorite to win on Thursday. However, the spread is only -2, meaning this one should be another close one. For comparison, Game 5 opened with the Celtics a -7 favorite.
The bold prediction is that Game 6 will be another must-see event. Both teams will have their moments, but in the end, the Sixers will use the help of their fans to close out the series 4-2. If that is the case, Philadelphia will advance to the Eastern Conference Finals and be a step closer to winning an NBA title for the first time since 1983.
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