NBA Picks for 76ers vs. Celtics

Jason Lake

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 12:38 PM UTC

Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 12:38 PM UTC

The Boston Celtics have gone to heck in a handbasket since Rajon Rondo came back. Wednesday might be a rare opportunity for the Philadelphia 76ers to beat the NBA odds.

Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to January 28 inclusive:

56-40-1 ATS

13-11 Totals

If there was any concern the Boston Celtics (15-32 SU, 22-24-1 ATS) would deviate from their path toward the draft lottery when Rajon Rondo came off the injured list, fear not. The C’s have lost six of their last seven games since Rondo’s return, going 2-5 ATS and falling to 12th place in the Eastern Conference. Their last outing was a very sad 114-88 defeat at the hands of the New York Knicks, who cashed in as 6-point home favorites Tuesday night.

Boston will be back on the parquet Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET to host the Philadelphia 76ers (14-31 SU, 18-27 ATS), who have the exact same record at 1-6 SU and 2-5 ATS in their last seven games. I mean the exact same record, with the same sequence of wins and losses. The only difference is that Philadelphia was idle Tuesday after losing 124-113 to the Phoenix Suns (–5). That means the Sixers should have the advantage on the NBA lines, which have Boston favored by 4.5 points with a total of 202.

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More Beans, Please

The sooner the Celtics forget about Tuesday’s game, the better. They missed 11 of their first 13 shots as New York took a 21-5 lead that grew to 63-37 by halftime. Rondo (6.5 PER) shot just 3-of-11 to finish with seven points in 27 minutes; he’s clearly not back to his previous All-Star form, which is understandable given the major ACL injury he suffered last year. But Rondo wasn’t the only Celtic who struggled Tuesday. Each of the starting five finished the night at minus-20 or worse.

Part of the problem is that Avery Bradley (12.6 PER) and his defensive hustle will be missing for another week or so, thanks to a sprained ankle and a sore right hand. Jerryd Bayless (11.6 PER) also missed four games with a sprained big toe, but he returned on Tuesday and played quite well, putting up 10 points and four assists in 27 minutes off the bench. Bayless could find himself in the starting lineup Wednesday if the Celtics decide to sit Rondo on zero days of rest. That’s what they did last week against the Washington Wizards, and go figure, Boston won that game 113-111 as a 9.5-point road dog.

Heavy Rotation

The Celtics have also gotten away from the young lineups that were so effective earlier in the season. Coach Brad Stevens has been juggling the lineup from game to game, giving more minutes to Gerald Wallace (9.8 PER) and Kris Humphries (18.9 PER), perhaps in an effort to showcase them before next month’s trading deadline. At least Humphries is making the most of the opportunity. But this is all coming at the expense of rookie centers Kelly Olynyk (11.8 PER) and Vitor Faverani (11.4 PER).

It should also be noted that the Celtics have already been unloading talent this month. On Jan. 7, they shipped Courtney Lee (15.0 PER) to the Memphis Grizzlies in a 3-way deal that brought Bayless and his expiring contract to town. One week later, Jordan Crawford (16.1 PER) was packaged in another 3-way that saw Joel Anthony (6.0 PER in 52 minutes this year) come over from the Miami Heat, along with a pair of draft picks. It’s Tank Time, folks.

Fading this version of the Celtics is going to be fun, but maybe not in this particular matchup against the lottery-bound Sixers. Fortunately for our NBA betting purposes, the UNDER is 6-3 in Boston’s last nine games and 10-3-1 in Philadelphia’s last 14. It’s good to have options.

NBA Pick: Take UNDER 202.5 at BetOnline

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