Sixers vs. Celtics: Predictions for first round of 2020 NBA playoffs

Tobias Harris, Joel Embiid | Sixers (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Tobias Harris, Joel Embiid | Sixers (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

The Sixers and Celtics will battle it out in round one. Here’s who we think will win.

The 2020 NBA playoffs are nearly upon us after a whirlwind season. The Philadelphia 76ers have the distinct honor of facing the Boston Celtics — longtime division rivals, and the conveniently recent home of current Sixers big man Al Horford. It promises to be one of the more intriguing first-round series.

Of course, Philadelphia will enter this game without Ben Simmons, who recently underwent season-ending surgery to remove a loose body in his left knee. Without Simmons, the Sixers will look to Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, and others to penetrate Boston’s renowned defense.

The Celtics enter this series at 48-24 and in the No. 3 seed, whereas Philadelphia currently occupies the No. 6 seed after a 4-4 stint in the bubble. The Sixers finished the truncated regular season 43-30. While Boston technically has “home court advantage,” all seven games will take place in a neutral, virtually crowd-less setting. That is, unless you consider the virtual fans a real difference-maker.

Both teams should enter the series relatively healthy. Kemba Walker will have no minute restrictions for Boston, while all Indications are that Joel Embiid’s wrist is ready to go for Philadelphia. The obvious exception, of course, is Simmons. The Celtics’ starting five consists of Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, and Daniel Theis. The Sixers are expected to run a unit of Shake Milton, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris, Al Horford, and Joel Embiid.

Here’s how our writers expect the series to play out.