76ers odds tonight

NBA odds: Celtics vs. 76ers betting picks; two locks against the spread

NBC Sports Boston’s coverage of Celtics-76ers starts tonight at 6:30 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 7:30 p.m.

Welcome back, NBA basketball. We’ve missed you so.

An offseason of superstar musical chairs set the table for what could be one of the most entertaining NBA seasons in recent memory — one that started strong Tuesday night with two great matchups.

Wednesday brings the season’s first full NBA slate, though, and with it a host of opportunities for sports bettors, starting with the Boston Celtics’ season opener against the rival Philadelphia 76ers.

On every Celtics game day throughout the 2019-20 season, we’ll give you our betting picks for Boston’s moneyline, point spread and point total, as well as two more “locks” on the NBA slate.

Blakely’s 2019-20 NBA Power Rankings: How do C’s stack up?

Let’s get started. (All odds provided by WestGate Superbook.)

Boston Celtics at Philadelphia 76ers, 7:30 p.m. ET

Moneyline: The Sixers (-240) are solid home favorites, and with good reason. Philly’s depth may be an issue this season, but it won’t be in their season opener after an offseason to rest up. I’m siding with the Sixers’ loaded starting five in front of a juiced-up Philly crowd.

Point Spread: Give me the Sixers (-5.5) again. The Celtics have had Philly’s number in recent years and have won three of the teams’ last four matchups at Wells Fargo Arena, so this should be a close game. But it might take time for Kemba Walker and the new-look C’s to develop continuity. Boston rallies after a slow first quarter but loses by high single digits.

Point Total: The 212.5 point total is a bit high for Game 1, so I’m taking the UNDER. Joel Embiid should have his way with Boston’s frontcourt now that his kryptonite (Al Horford) is his teammate, but the Celtics otherwise are sound defensively. More importantly, there’s a lot of rust to shake off: The C’s and their opponents have combined for 201 points or fewer in each of the last two season openers.

NBA Locks of the Night

Denver Nuggets (+1) at Portland Trail Blazers: The Nuggets are a legitimate title contender this season thanks to deep, versatile roster. And as fate would have it, they open the season against the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last spring. Denver coach Michael Malone recently admitted the Nuggets still have a bad taste in their mouths from that second-round loss. Chalk this up to a “revenge win.”

Chicago Bulls (-3.5) at Charlotte Hornets: The Bulls are trending in the right direction, and a young core of Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Otto Porter Jr. and Wendell Carter Jr. should make them fun to watch. The Hornets are . not. Even if Terry Rozier comes out of the gate hot, Chicago should cover against this Eastern Conference cellar dweller.

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Kevin McHale explains Celtics’ early exit from the court vs. Pistons in 1988

Kevin McHale explains Celtics’ early exit from the court vs. Pistons in 1988

During the airing of the ESPN documentary The Last Dance, truths about the beef between NBA legend Michael Jordan and Detroit Pistons star Isiah Thomas has been put under the microscope. And at one point, the Boston Celtics were dragged into the feud between the two sides.

After Jordan’s Chicago Bulls swept Thomas’ Pistons in the first round of the 1991 NBA playoffs, the Pistons left the court without shaking hands with the Bulls. In fact, they exited with just under eight seconds remaining in the game.

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Thomas explained during the documentary his team’s decision to leave the court. And one reason he didn’t think it was a big deal was that the Celtics had done the same thing to the Pistons during the 1988 Eastern Conference Finals.

“Adrian Dantley was shooting a free throw, and the Boston Celtics were walking off during the game,” Thomas said. “And I grab McHale and then he stopped as he was walking off the floor. That’s how they left the floor. And to us, that was okay.”

Nonetheless, Jordan took exception to the Bulls’ actions and that’s part of what started his rivalry with Thomas.

And, of course, it’s also worth noting that there was a very good reason that the Celtics had to leave the court early. As Kevin McHale explained in a recent interview, fans were starting to storm the court at Auburn Hills.

“Someone told us to get out of there before they stormed the court,” McHale said per Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald.

And security did, indeed, escort the C’s off the floor because, as McHale detailed, the locker rooms were not close to the court.

“You had a really long walk to get out of there,” McHale said. “It wasn’t like the Garden or other places. You had a hundred yards probably before you got to the entry way to the locker rooms.”

So, that explains why the Celtics did what they did. And it’s more than reasonable. Considering the potential security issue, it made sense to clear the court. But for the Pistons, who were defeated by the Bulls at home, leaving the court early made no difference; there was to be no court-storming.

McHale did stop to talk to Thomas briefly on his way off the floor. What was uttered during that time? McHale elaborated on his message to the Pistons star.

“I knew Isiah from the Pan-Am Games, and Zeke and I have always been friends,” McHale said. “He said something to me, and I said, ‘Hey, man, look, it feels just as bad to lose in The Finals as it does to lose in the Eastern Conference finals.’ I said, ‘This (expletive)’s not over with. You guys got another series to play, so don’t celebrate too much.’ I said that, then I walked off. That was just my advice to him as a friend.”

The advice from McHale turned out to be wise. The Pistons did eventually learn how tough it is to lose in the NBA Finals. They were defeated by the Los Angeles Lakers in 1988 before going on to win back-to-back titles to close out the ’80s and open up the ’90s.

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