There is a long history of basketball teams from the United States going overseas, starting back even before the NBA was popular, when Abe Saperstein’s Harlem Globetrotters toured Europe to put on their acrobatic displays of greatness.
The NBA didn’t play overseas until the late ’70s when the Washington Bullets played exhibition games in Israel and it wasn’t until 1990 when the NBA played its first regular season game in a foreign country. Tom Chambers and the Phoenix Suns defeated John Stockton, Karl Malone, and the Utah Jazz in Tokyo, Japan.
There were seven more regular season games in Japan before the NBA diversified to Mexico City in 1997, when the Rockets beat the Mavericks by two points.
Four more games in Japan and more than 13 years went by before the NBA found a third country to host a regular season game: England. On March 4, 2011, the New Jersey Nets beat the Toronto Raptors at the O2 Arena in London. There would be no game in 2012 but in every year since, London has hosted one regular season game in January.
Last year, the Denver Nuggets put on a show and scored 140 points to beat the Indiana Pacers and this season, the sixth in a row, the Boston Celtics will take on the Philadelphia 76ers in a matchup between two cities that did their part in ridding the British influence from America and helping their country gain independence over 240 years ago.
Al Horford is listed as probable but he’s a 100 percent go for this game after missing the Celtics’ last one with a bruised knee. Marcus Morris is also officially off of his minutes restriction that was a result of a knee injury that he’s been dealing with since before the season started.
Joel Embiid is listed as probable for the Sixers and I’ve found nothing to suggest he won’t play tonight. He’s been playing with that bad hand and while his numbers haven’t suggested it, the pain has bothered Embiid at times.
Embiid didn’t play in Philly’s last game against Boston, an 11-point loss. He did play in the first matchup, a ten-point Boston win, and scored 11 points on 4-for-16 from the field. Horford is about as good as it gets defensively and he matches up quite well with Embiid.
The same can be said about Jaylen Brown on Ben Simmons. Brown can guard Simmons because Philadelphia almost always has some smaller guys on the floor with their big point guard. And even if the Sixers try to go big with Simmons, Reddick, Covington, Saric and Embiid, the Celtics can throw Kyrie Irving on Reddick and be just fine. The way Boston matches up with Philly’s two stars is why the 76ers have failed to crack 100 in either of their two matchups this season.
So for me, the total is too high. I understand this game may have a bit of an exhibition feel to it, being in London, but it’s also a divisional game and Philadelphia is trying to avoid going down 3–0 in the season series. If the Sixers are going to beat Boston, it’s going to be by holding the Celtics, not outscoring them.
Free Pick: Under 208