Philadelphia 76ers vs. Boston Celtics
TD Garden | Boston, MA
October 16, 2018 | 08:00 PM EST
The Boston Celtics (0-0) will play host to the Philadelphia 76ers (0-0) in the opener of the 2018-19 NBA season. Boston will be looking to expand on an immensely successful season in 2017-18, in which they fell one game short of reaching the NBA Finals, despite prized free agent acquisition Gordon Hayward suffering a season-ending injury in the opening game a year ago. Philadelphia hopes “The Process” will continue to trend upward, a year removed from their first playoff appearance in six seasons. The Sixers were eliminated by these Celtics in six games in last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals.
|Projected Starting Lineups|
|Philadelphia 76ers||Boston Celtics|
|Ben Simmons||PG||Kyrie Irving|
|Markelle Fultz||SG||Jaylen Brown|
|Robert Covington||SF||Gordon Hayward|
|Dario Saric||PF||Jayson Tatum|
|Joel Embiid||C||Al Horford|
Both teams project to have starting lineups at full strength for tonight’s opener. Of particular note for Philly is the start at shooting guard for Markelle Fultz, whose struggles shooting the jumper have been well-publicized. The former first overall pick will look to display an offseason of working on his touch in a backcourt that desperately needs it; Simmons has developed into a bona fide star for the 76ers, but made all of zero three-pointers in his first full NBA season. The Celtics, at long last, will put together the starting lineup envisioned by Danny Ainge prior to making the splashes of acquiring Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. Both missed the deep Boston playoff run a season ago due to injury, and perhaps there will be an adjustment period as these five get used to playong alongside each other, but this Celtics lineup might be the deepest in the Eastern Conference, and any of the five is capable of a huge statline on any given night.
Tonight’s game will be the first in over a decade in an Eastern Conference not ruled by Lebron James, who has made his pilgrimage west to join the storied Los Angeles Lakers. The playoff landscape in the East will look vastly different at season’s end as a result, and both of these teams are expected to settle in at the top of the conference. But as of right now, Boston looks to be in a different class than a Philadelphia team with lots of young talent, but very obvious holes. I look for the deep Celtics lineup to overwhelm the visiting Sixers, and ride the homecourt advantage that served them so well in last year’s playoffs (at 10-1) to an opening night win.
Our Free NBA Pick: Boston Celtics -4.5 (-120)