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3 Player Props May 7: Don't Sleep on Philadelphia's De'Anthony Melton

Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers
Sunday, May 7, 2023 at 3:30 p.m. ET at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia

Boston's Defensive Concerns

Joel Embiid's return to Philadelphia has brought good news to Boston.

After suffering a loss in his absence, Boston has won the past two games to take a 2-1 series lead.

Including the regular season, the Celtics are 5-1 this season against Philadelphia when Embiid plays.

Boston benefits from the rather clogged offense that Philadelphia presents with Embiid on the court.

This clogged offense, rather than the more spread-out offense that Philadelphia showcases in Embiid's absence, affects Embiid's supporting cast negatively, making it easier for Boston to guard his teammates.

Tyrese Maxey, for example, has less driving room inside.

James Harden, moreover, is tentative when penetrating inside, and his tentativeness leads to turnovers and other negative consequences.

All of this might seem to lead to the conclusion that Boston can afford to devote more attention to limiting Embiid's productivity.

But it's quite the opposite.

The Celtics are content to let Embiid score at will, knowing that he can't win the game by himself and knowing that they can win by shutting down his supporting cast.

It took Embiid scoring over 50 points for the 76ers to win the one game that they did when he played.

Another way of saying this point is this: Embiid averages almost 37 points per game while his team can't beat Boston with him on the court.

Boston's Defensive Weaknesses

Boston also has the personnel to limit Philadelphia's supporting cast more easily, whereas it couldn't stop Embiid if it wanted to.

Robert Williams III is a terrific athlete who can stick with Maxey, and he's a well-reputed rim-protector in general.

But the Celtics lack guys with the size and strength to contain Embiid, who also surprises them with his foot speed and moves inside the arc.

Best Bet: Joel Embiid over 27.5 points at -120 with Bovada

Supporting Joel Embiid

Embiid can't win games by himself, assuming that he doesn't go off for over 50 points.

While he's always good for 30+ against Boston, it's a fair assumption that his lack of freshness will inhibit him from achieving a historical performance.

So, teammates will need to step up for Embiid.

Let's look at the options: there's Harden, who dropped 45 in Game 1 but can't handle Boston's post-Game 1 adjustments -- the Celtics have stuck Jaylen Brown on him, hounding him down the length of the court.

Given the simple fact that it's James Harden, it's unlikely that Boston relaxes the defensive pressure that it's applying on him.

The Celtics have also done well against Tyrese Maxey, who, since Game 1, has been awfully inefficient offensively.

Although he doesn't get as much respect in general, De'Anthony Melton is a better candidate than Maxey to provide Philly with the support it needs for Embiid, because Maxey struggles in the paint that Embiid clogs while Melton benefits from Embiid double-teams especially by catching his passes and shooting threes.

The 76ers are finding out the importance of playing Melton more: they were blown out by 34 points when Melton played 18 minutes but won one game and were more competitive in another when Melton played 25 and 30 minutes, respectively.

Melton's Offensive Productivity

Melton has rewarded Philly with stronger offensive productivity when he's played more minutes -- he scored 17 points in 25 minutes in Game 1 and 14 points in 30 minutes in Game 3.

Because Melton has clearly been a strong supporting option for them, the 76ers will surely continue to give him more minutes.

Melton's over/under point total is disrespectful, but Melton will blow past it with his catch-and-shoot prowess and other offensive strengths.

Best Bet: De'Anthony Melton over 8.5 points at -115 with Bovada

Philadelphia's Defense

While it boasts elite rim protection in the form of Embiid, Philadelphia's perimeter defense is vulnerable -- behind the arc, opposing offenses can do the most to attack the 76ers.

So far in this postseason, Philadelphia is allowing the second-highest frequency of open three-point attempts.

Likewise, the 76ers are allowing wide-open three-point attempts with the second-highest frequency.

These stats indicate that teams are easily procuring favorable three-point shooting opportunities against them.

Therefore, we should look for a Celtics' player whose strength on offense is scoring behind the arc rather than scoring inside the arc, where he'd have to contend with the likes of Embiid.

Celtic Options

The thing is, Philadelphia is not entirely bereft of solid perimeter defenders.

Melton, for example, is well-known for his strong perimeter defense.

The 76ers will want to devote their top perimeter defense to limiting Boston's top three-point shooting options.

The Celtics' top two scorers are obviously Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, and the 76ers have indeed limited the former's three-point shooting volume and held the latter somewhat in check from behind the arc.

There is plenty of room for lesser-known scorers to step up for Boston as the 76ers focus on limiting its top scoring options.

My favorite guy is Derrick White, who is being criminally underrated by oddsmakers.

White has averaged five three-point attempts in three games this series.

He has been underperforming on his open and three-point attempt conversion rates yet still converted three and two three-point attempts in his past two games, respectively.

As a 38.1-percent three-point shooter, he should be expected to be more efficient, in which case he'll perform even better from deep today.

Asking him to make two threes is profoundly modest.

Best Bet: Derrick White Over 1.5 Threes Made at -135 with Bovada
I'll have to shorten this and add pick summaries for the published version. Not sure why readers would want less content?? Whatever
I like the Philly guys, Embid a must imo, I havnt thought bout melton but makes sense, someone gonna help Embid and I don’t think it be Harden! I hate playing any the Boston 3 point shooters cause I just seem to always pick the wrong guys. There no question they will take and make plenty I just dunno which players will be making them a given game?
I like the Philly guys, Embid a must imo, I havnt thought bout melton but makes sense, someone gonna help Embid and I don’t think it be Harden! I hate playing any the Boston 3 point shooters cause I just seem to always pick the wrong guys. There no question they will take and make plenty I just dunno which players will be making them a given game?

I wanted to choose my friend but based on his game-to-game history it seem unlikely that he stays as hot as he been. White seemed like a good under-the-radar option