The Philadelphia 76ers take a short trip to Boston tonight to meet the Celtics. While the 76ers had Boston's number the last time the two met, we believe that tonight's matchup should produce a different result.

There are only eleven games left in the regular season, and the Atlantic division is still very much up for grabs. While the Knicks (3 games back of the division lead) have the tough task of facing the Bulls this afternoon in New York, the Celtics and 76ers square off in Boston.

The 76ers lost last night at home to the drama-filled Magic, while the Celtics won an excellent game in Indianapolis against the Pacers, 86-72. The NBA odds boards are favoring the Celtics at -4 for this matchup, with a total of 176 points. Some NBA betting shops have already started offering the spread at 3.5 with a total of 175.5.

Lets breakdown this matchup and decide which side we want to be on when it comes time to placing our NBA picks tonight.

Old, not dead

Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ersThe Boston Celtics could stretch their lead in the Atlantic division to three games with a win here tonight, putting a nice cushion between them and Philly. The 76ers have all but imploded over the last month, but I’ll get into that in a bit. Boston on the other hand has done quite the opposite. They have pushed their way to a 31-24 record, after being only a borderline playoff team at the All Star Break.

After losing two games in a row to tough Bulls and Spurs teams, the Celtics were able to dominate last night in Indiana. Paul Pierce had 24 points to lead the Celtics and Rajon Rondo had 12 assists. Boston has won eight of their last eleven games, but one of those losses came at the hands of the 76ers back on March 23, where the Celtics dropped a game 99-86 in Philadelphia. I hate to use the term “payback,” but with the implications surrounding the division lead, the Celtics might just come out for tonight’s game with a bit more fire.

The problem is, the Celtics have not beaten the 76ers so far this season. They are 0-2 SU and ATS against the Sixers this season.

76ers getting 86’d

Among playoff teams in the NBA this season, there hasn’t been a slide like the Sixers have had in either conference. Philly has lost three games in a row, nine of their last thirteen, and since February 15th, they are 9-17. They are now only 29-26 SU on the year, after being a top 3 or 4 team in the East before the All Star Break.

So what has happened to this once good team, that has turned them into an average team? Scoring is the number one issue. They have failed to reach 80 points five times in their last twelve games. While they still are the number one ranked defensive team in the NBA, they have dropped to the ditch when it comes to average scoring. They rank 25th in the league in scoring (93 points per game). However, they have given up an average of 93 points per game in their last seven.

The Sharp Pick

If you just take a glance at this game on the surface, it seems simple. Lay the points with the Celtics, and take the under. Both of these teams are 1st and 3rd in points against in the NBA, so it should be in the eighties. Not so fast. The Celtics are only 7-9 SU off of back to backs this season, and have yet to beat Philadelphia. Plus, defense has been what has suffered when both teams are playing their second game in as many nights.

This is going to be a grind it out defensive battle, but the total is a wash to me, and might be a bit of a dangerous bet. However, I think the Celtics will finally win against the fading Sixers, so I am taking the first half moneyline with the home team to play it safe. The Celtics were up at the half the last time these two played, and have been leading at the half in eight of their last nine games.

My Pick: Celtics -145 1H