Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:55 AM

Thursday's Best Bet

Philadelphia at Boston (TNT, 8:05 p.m. ET)

Thursday's four-game slate in the NBA has at least three games that are intriguing on some level, and it's the first of those that tips off that might take the cake.

The Philadelphia 76ers – fresh off beating quality foes in Denver and Toronto – who have won seven of eight head up to Boston to take on a Celtics team that fell last night in Indiana. The Celtics had a 10-point lead entering the 4th quarter last night and couldn't hold it down. Secondary scoring for Boston was sparse down the stretch as Kemba Walker's 44 points on the night didn't see a whole lot of help late, and with the Pacers turning stops into scores with ease, they were able to get the W.

Now just 24 hours later, Boston hopes that the quick turnaround and the home court can help them get rid of that bad taste out of their mouth from Wednesday, but it won't be easy. For as much as they've got a few things working for them (home court), they've got a few things working against them (no rest, possible injuries), and Philly is a better squad then the Pacers.

So who gets it done tonight?

NBA Betting Odds: Philadelphia (-2); Total set at 210.5

Teams playing without rest are always going to see some action go against them and that's just really how it is. It's so tough to be anywhere near your best after playing 24 hours before from a physical standpoint, and that's not even fully considering the off-court factors like travel and less sleep. Point spreads do their best to account for that stuff in the line, but markets will always lean towards the team with rest in those scenarios, and tonight that's the Philadelphia 76ers.

And while Philly has won seven of eight, the fact that they are just 3-4-1 ATS in those games has to be a little concerning for Philly backers tonight. Granted with a point spread in the range that it currently is (-1.5 to 2) the spread probably won't matter in terms of who wins this game outright, but again, that's not necessarily a positive for the Sixers.

This year, when Philly's been involved in a game where either side is laying -2.5 or less, Philly has a record of 1-4 SU and 1-3-1 ATS. Their lone outright win wasn't the ATS win either (it was the push) as the point spread cover by the Sixers came when they were catching 2.5 points and lost by two. Winning these games that are projected to be tight/tough has got to be the next step for this Philly team if they do want to get to where they expect to be in May and possibly June, but until they show they are capable of doing it, I want no part of them, even with the schedule advantage on their side.

Instead, I'm backing a Celtics team that should get much better production from their supporting cast tonight back at home.

The Celtics could be without Gordon Hayward tonight who took a nasty shot to the face late last night, but there are rumblings that they are also hopeful that Marcus Smart is back available this evening as well. Having both of those guys out on the floor would obviously be a huge positive for the Celtics tonight, but even with just one of them out there I'm still fine with the play. Heck, even if both aren't available I'm still comfortable taking them as a home dog.

That's because supporting casts in the NBA tend to always be more productive in front of their own fans, and the Celtics still have guys like Jason Tatum and Jalen Brown who can provide plenty of support for Kemba. I expect those three guys to lead the way for this team offensively tonight – as they tend to do every night – but the 39 total points that they got from everyone else on their roster in Indiana last night should get a huge uptick back at home.

Furthermore, it's not like Philly prefers to play an up-and-down pace that could run potentially tired Boston legs out of the gym, and that does negate some of the negative effects of a back-to-back for Boston in my view. A grinding, defensive style of game where the first to 100 points wins is a style the Celtics don't mind playing at all.

With the home side having won four of five meetings since the start of last season, and eight of 10 when these two teams meet up, Boston appears to be the play from where I sit. The two wins by road teams in that span both came by Boston, and both were by exactly 3 points. So give me the points with the home dog tonight, lack of rest be damned, and plus-money on the ML is worth a look as well.

Best Bet: Boston +2

We may be compensated by the company links provided on this page. Read more