NBA London Game 2018 Odds, Prediction
First, let’s address the obvious: Neither team has a home-court advantage, although technically speaking, The Sixers will be the home team (yay?). But they will be playing in front of a divided London crowd that just wants to see stars and good basketball. This is a far cry from the ruckus pro-Philly crowds at Wells Fargo Center.
If Joel Embiid wasn’t playing, this would be a very short article. But he is, so this will be a ball game. The Sixers are clearly a much different team with him in the lineup. These Sixers have a record of 2-7 when Embiid sits, and 17-12 when he does.
Overall, they’re a .500 team right now, and they’re a half game out of the playoff picture. But, if you take that 17-12 record, you’ve got a winning percentage of 58%, which would be good enough for the 5th spot in the East. But keeping him in the game is a big “if.” That being said, even with him, I don’t see them beating the Celtics in this one.
Prediction: The Boston Celtics (-2) at Sports Interaction
It’s pretty amazing that London is being treated to two of the NBA’s most marketable teams, both of whom were on the Christmas Day Showcase for the NBA. They’re also two of the hottest teams in the East, with Beantown winners of their last 6 games, and Philly winning their last 4 games. So both teams are hot. But how well rested are they?
The Celtics last played on Saturday when they handled the Nets on the road. The 6ers have a slight advantage because they haven’t played since Friday, when they beat the holy hell out of the Pistons. Most of their starters got some extra rest, because of the blowout. So the NBA didn’t do any real scheduling cruelty to these teams, although they will have their plates full of lots of media leading up to the game. Philly will fly home to play the Raptors on Monday, whereas the Celtics will play the Pelicans on Tuesday.
Now, let’s look at the numbers we would be looking at if this game wasn’t being played across the pond. Boston is really doing wonders at the defensive end under Brad Stevens this year. The Celtics are holding teams to 99.7 points per night, best in the NBA and the only team holding teams under 100. Whereas, for a young team, Philly doesn’t suck at the defensive end. The 76ers are giving up 103.3 points per game, good enough for 6th in the NBA.
But Boston is locked right in right now, defensively. Over their last 3 games, they have held The Cavaliers, Timberwolves and Net’s to 88, 84, and 85 points respectively. A bit prior to that, they held the NBA’s 2nd leading scoring team, The Houston Rockets, under 100 points. Houston is averaging almost 113 per night, and that was only the third time they were held under 100 all season. To really give yourself the advantage in these games, you need to get the crowd behind you. Fans will be coming into this game pretty neutral, with a few exceptions. So who will win the crowd over?
Kyrie Irving is the obvious choice for Boston. He’s a former world champion who hit a title-clinching shot against the Golden State Warriors. He’s also got an exciting game to watch, and will own the building as soon as he drops someone with a crossover. The Celtics also have a high-flying, hard-dunking second-year player in Jaylen Brown. Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum is also fun to watch.
On the other side, the trash talking media darling Embiid will come in with a lot of fanfare behind him. He’s also clearly going to play the crowd and a few dunks could mean the fans is his for the rest of the night. The rest of the team is shockingly boring. Ben Simmons is insanely talented, but has all the charisma of a bucket of white primer.
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