Is Joel Embiid Playing? Embiid is listed as questionable but is expected to play for the 76ers who host the Celtics for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference first-round. The game is expected to tip-off at 7:30 PM ET, Friday, May 5th, 2023.
Given the blowout performance in Game 2, it’s no surprise the Celtics are still a 2 point favorite on the road, with many expecting them to carry on their momentum from Game 2.
In the absence of Embiid, the 76ers won the first game of their Eastern Conference semifinal series, but struggled in his return for Game 2. Now, with Embiid back in the lineup, the 76ers are looking for a better performance in Game 3 against the Celtics.
Embiid played for 27 minutes, scored 15 points, and blocked five shots in Wednesday’s 121-87 loss to the Celtics. This was Embiid’s first game since his injury in Game 3 of the first-round series against the Brooklyn Nets.
He sat out the clinching game of the series sweep and Game 1 of this series, which the 76ers won 119-115. Although disappointed by the loss, Embiid felt good to be back and is taking it as a step toward getting back to his usual self.
The 76ers struggled with their 3-point shooting in Game 2, making only 6 of 30 attempts after hitting 17 shots from beyond the arc in the series opener. Meanwhile, James Harden had a poor shooting night, making just 2 of 14 shots and missing all six of his attempts from 3-point range after sinking seven 3-pointers in the series opener.
Jaylen Brown had no such issues, scoring 25 points, including 13 of Boston’s first 18 points. Malcolm Brogdon also had a strong game off the bench for the Celtics, sinking six 3-pointers on his way to 23 points.
Boston took control of the game in the third quarter, outscoring Philadelphia 35-16, and ultimately won 128-101, evening the series at one game apiece. The Celtics limited their turnovers to seven after committing 16 in the series opener, which was a key factor in their victory.
Jayson Tatum struggled in Game 2, finishing with just seven points in 19 minutes due to early foul trouble. However, with his impressive regular-season stats in mind, he is expected to bounce back in Game 3. Both teams are looking forward to the challenge of playing in a hostile environment, with Brown saying they should all be excited to embrace it.
ODDS AND PREDICTIONS
Despite having four players averaging over 18 points per game in the postseason, no one on the Philadelphia roster scored more than 16 points in Game 2. However, this is unlikely to happen again, especially on their home court.
Embiid is expected to return to form in Game 3, as he has been playing well below his season averages. With his size advantage inside, the MVP can take advantage of the 6’9 Al Horford and Robert Williams III, who has only been playing 22.3 minutes per game this postseason.
Embiid’s offensive engagement will also create more opportunities for Harden, Tyrese Maxey, and Tobias Harris. Harris has been performing well this postseason, averaging 19.2 points per game as a fourth offensive option.
The 76ers have won their home playoff games against Brooklyn by an average of 16 points, and its anticipated to be a similar outcome in this game. Expect Philadelphia to bounce back in this series that could potentially go to seven games.
Therefore, taking Philadelphia with the small line at home is the recommended choice. But remember, it’s important to keep in mind that sports betting always involves a degree of risk, and there’s no guarantee that the 76ers won’t become reliant on a MVP caliber performance from Embiid to win this game. As always, it’s essential to do your research and make an informed decision based on the available data.
Spread: Celtics -2
Moneyline: Celtics -130, 76ers +110
Pick: 76ers +2
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