Only the San Antonio Spurs have a better record than the 46-16 Boston Celtics
But when it comes to being the point spread champion, only the New York Knicks rate as high as the Philadelphia 76ers, who are 40-23-1 (63 percent) ATS.
The 76ers host the Celtics Friday at 4:05 p.m. PT.
This doesn’t figure to be an easy game for the banged-up Celtics, who have failed to cover in two close victories against the 76ers this season.
Shaquille O’Neal remains out with a sore Achilles. Glen Davis isn’t expected to play due to a strained left patella tendon and Delonte West has missed the past six games with a sprained right ankle.
The Celtics are doing a late-season makeover working in newcomers Troy Murphy, Sasha Pavlovic and backup point guard Carlos Arroyo.
Nenad Krstic and Jeff Green have played in only six games for Boston since arriving via trade from Oklahoma City.
All this newness caught up to Boston in an upset by the Los Angeles Clippers, 108-103, on Wednesday. The Celtics lost as nine-point home favorites despite holding Blake Griffin to 12 points and the Clippers not having Eric Gordon. The combined 211 points flew ‘over’ the 192-point total.
The defeat snapped a five-game Boston winning streak. The Celtics rank No. 2 defensively holding foes to 91.9 points per game, but have upped their scoring lately.
Boston is averaging 103 points in its last six games, which is five points higher than its season scoring average. During their past 12 contests, Boston averaged 91.3 points. The Celtics are shooting 42 percent from 3-point range during this span. They had been making 30.7 percent from beyond the arc in their previous dozen games.
The ‘over’ has cashed in five of Boston’s last six games. In four of these instances the ‘over’ has gone above the total by at least 13 points. The Celtics are missing much of their former tough interior defense with center Kendrick Perkins traded to Oklahoma City and O’Neal and Davis sidelined.
Krstic, Green, Pavlovic and Murphy are more offensive-minded players.
The ‘over’ has cashed in eight of the 76ers’ last 10 games. Philadelphia is averaging 112.7 points in its last four games.
Philadelphia opened 3-13 with new coach Doug Collins. Since then, though, the 76ers have gone 30-18 and are chasing New York for the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference standings. Only six teams have a better record than Philadelphia since its turnaround started on Nov. 27.
The 76ers have covered 32 of their last 48 games, including suffering a 110-105 home overtime loss to Oklahoma City this past Wednesday as 1 ½-point favorites. The combined 215 points went ‘over’ the 206 ½-point total. The teams put up 202 points during regulation.
Philadelphia has been particularly strong at home covering 62 percent of the time in going 20-12 ATS.
Versatile swingman Andre Iguodala is averaging 14 points, eight assists and nearly eight rebounds per game during his past nine matchups. Elton Brand is having a strong comeback season averaging a team-best 15.2 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.
The 76ers also have one of the strongest benches in the league thanks to Thaddeus Young, Louis Williams and rookie Evan Turner.
It took a layup by Kevin Garnett with 1.4 seconds left to allow the Celtics to nip the 76ers, 102-101, on Dec. 9 in the first meeting between the two clubs. Boston was six-point favorites and the combined 203 points went ‘over’ the 189 ½-point total. The 76ers led by 10 points in the third quarter.
The Celtics failed to cover in the rematch on Dec. 22, winning 84-80 as nine-point home favorites. The combined 164 points dipped well ‘under’ the 191 ½-point total. The 76ers led in the fourth quarter.