Yes, we all know Simmons has his limitations on offense. However, it’s not that easy to replace 18.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game. Those numbers are the third-year player’s statistics in four games vs. the Celtics this season. And let’s not forget his biggest impact for the Sixers is his defense. His league-leading 2.1 steals per game is nothing to gloss over.
The Sixers won the first three matchups against Boston before losing the last meeting by 21 points back on Feb. 1. In a normal world, the Sixers would be shipping up to Boston for Games 1 and 2. It’s a blessing in disguise that Brett Brown and company will not have to put their 10-24 pre-bubble road record on the line.
Without Simmons, the Sixers are 5.5-point underdogs for Game 1 on FanDuel and 6.5-point underdogs on DraftKings. Playing in a neutral site in Orlando is a good reason why that number isn’t higher.
Keep in mind that the Celtics this season own the second-best record against the spread (41-27-4). That’s hitting over 60 percent of the time, while the Sixers are near the bottom at 31-38-4.
As for the series, the Sixers aren’t getting a whole lot of love from the sportsbooks. Both BetMGM and FOX Bet list the Celtics at -400 to win the series ($400 winning bet pays $100), while the Sixers are +300 ($100 winning bets pays $300).
Simmons’ absence should boost offensive statistics for many of the Sixers starters. But just how much? FOX Bet has postseason over/unders on a variety of categories for Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson. Let’s focus on this trio’s points per game.
Embiid’s season PPG: 23.0 – FOX Bet O/U: 23.5
Harris’ season PPG : 19.6 – FOX BET O/U: 19.5
Richardon’s season PPG: 13.7 – FOX BET O/U: 13.5
It’s interesting that there is not much disparity between the regular-season totals and the over/under numbers considering Simmons will not be in the lineup. Although the situation and the circumstances are different, Philadelphia is no stranger to being an underdog to Boston. Just ask Nick Foles and Doug Pederson.
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2020 NBA playoffs: Sixers vs. Celtics betting preview originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia