No Dashed Hopes

Behind the offseason acquisitions of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, the Boston Celtics had high hopes for the 2007-08 season. With still more than a month to go, they've already more than doubled last season's win total.

The league-leading Celtics look to win their ninth straight and reach 50 for the first time in 16 years on Monday night when they visit the surging Philadelphia 76ers, who are trying to win nine straight home games for the first time in more than five years.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Boston -6 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 195 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 80% of bets for this game have been placed on Boston -6 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

Garnett, Allen and Paul Pierce have been leading Boston (49-12) through a special season. The Celtics have already clinched their first playoff berth since 2005, and after going 24-58 last season, is in position for its first 50-win season since 1991-92 (51-31).

The Celtics cruised to their eighth straight win, 119-89 over Memphis on Saturday. Allen scored 23 points, Pierce added 19 and Garnett chipped in with 17 and became the 32nd player in NBA history with 20,000 career points.

"It's a bit more meaningful being a Celtic when it happened and it seems like things are lining up for something more beautiful, like a championship," said Garnett, who never won a NBA title in 12 seasons with Minnesota.

Boston's defense has tightened up recently, holding opponents to an average of 89.0 points in its last three road games after allowing 109.3 in the previous three. The Celtics have won three straight road games by an average of 22.7 points since dropping a season-high three straight on the road, and their offense has been red-hot against the 76ers this season.

In its 113-103 win at Philadelphia on Dec. 5, Boston shot 52.6 percent from the field and made 10-of-22 3-pointers. In their 116-89 home win on Jan. 18, the Celtics shot 58.9 percent and connected on 14-of-22 shots from beyond the arc.

Pierce has 41 points and 15 assists in two games against the Sixers this season, while Allen has scored 35 points on 7-of-15 shooting from 3-point range in those contests. Garnett is averaging 16.5 points and 6.5 boards in the two games versus Philadelphia.

Boston has not won two games in Philadelphia in a single season since 1995-96.

The Sixers have playing at an extremely high level at the Wachovia Center lately, though, winning their last eight home games by an average of 18.9 points since a 108-106 loss to Southeast Division-leading Orlando on Feb. 1.

Philadelphia has not won nine straight home games since opening the 2002-03 season with 10 straight wins there.

The Sixers are coming off a 119-97 win at Milwaukee on Sunday, their 12th in 15 games. Rookie Thaddeus Young had 22 points to lead seven Philadelphia players in double figures.

The win was Philadelphia's fourth in a row overall, and moved it within one-half game of sixth-place Washington in the East.

The Sixers shot a season-best 60.3 percent on Sunday, and are outscoring their opponents by an average of 27.3 points in their last three games.

"I think Philadelphia is one of the hottest teams in the NBA right now that a lot of people are not talking about,'' Milwaukee's Charlie Villanueva said.

Andre Iguodala is averaging 22.5 points in his last four home games, and has scored 41 points against the Celtics this season.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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