The 2018-19 NBA season opens up tonight as a doubleheader is on the docket. The first game of the night pits two Eastern conference foes up against one another. The Philadelphia 76ers will head to Boston to take on the Celtics. With LeBron out of the East, these are the two top teams in the conference and they are set to do battle. There are storylines aplenty as two key players who didn’t provide any help last year are back and ready to play.
Markelle Fultz and Gordon Heyward were thought to be big contributors last year but injuries kept them out basically the entire season for their respective teams. This is a great game to kick off the NBA season between two rivals who will be there at the end. The Celtics are favored to win by 4.5 points on their home floor.
76ers Trusting Process
The 76ers come into this season with basically the same look as last year. They didn’t make moves in the offseason but view the potential outbreak of Fultz as an addition. If Fultz has his jumper fixed and his confidence restored, this could be a much more dangerous team than anyone expected. The 76ers starting lineup should be Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick, Robert Covington, Dario Saric, and Joel Embiid, but look for Fultz to start in place of Redick if the 76ers have confidence in him.
Bringing Redick off the bench would give them a huge boost especially if Fultz can come in and play well with the first line. Last year the 76ers scored 109.8 points a game which led to a ranking of seventh in the NBA in scoring. They rebounded the ball really well pulling down 47.4 a game which was first in the NBA. They also allowed just 105.3 points a game which was in the upper half of all NBA teams last season. As they are more mature this year and look to play a little quicker, all of these averages should rise across the board.
Boston Adding Healthy Pieces
The Celtics were without one of their best players, if not the best player, for the entire year last season. After signing Gordon Heyward to a free agent contract, he suffered a gruesome injury which he fell in the opening game and dislocated his ankle and broke his leg on the same fall. With him being back this year, the Celtics are looking to become one of the most dynamic teams in the league.
The Celtics should be full of firepower again this year as they are projected to start Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Heyward, Jayson Tatum, and Al Horford. This experience combined with youth could provide some explosive firepower this year. The breakout of Brown and Tatum from last year coupled with the return of Heyward should provide ample opportunities for wins this year. The Celtics are a team to watch this year as they have their hopes set on bringing home an NBA Championship this year with this roster.
Boston Wins at Home
The Celtics are going to come out in this one and look to win in Heyward’s first game back from injury. They are the more talented roster but the 76ers are going to look to knock off the team that everyone thinks is better. The 76ers see the Celtics as a winnable game and a chance to prove that they are for real this year while the Celtics want to get a win in front of their crowd.
Ultimately, I think the game is going to come down to the guard play. If Fultz is back, the 76ers will take the win. If he’s not then the Celtics will cover the spread and win the game. Take the Celtics to cover the 4.5 points and win.