Keith Pompey

Series prediction: Celtics win in 5 games.

Series MVP: Jayson Tatum

Why the Celtics will advance: Joel Embiid will have to play at an MVP level for the Sixers to pull off an upset. So look for the Celtics to try to tire out the big fella and double-team him in an attempt to make him give up the ball. Boston coach Brad Stevens will find other ways to limit the three-time All-Star center’s imprint on the game. Boston will also make the Sixers pick their poison in regards to picking Celtics perimeter players to defend.

Marc Narducci

Series prediction: Celtics win in 7 games.

Series MVP: Jayson Tatum

Why the Celtics will advance: The Sixers own one major advantage over the Celtics, in the post. Of course, this depends on which Joel Embiid shows up, the one who scored 38 points and 13 rebounds in a 115-109 win at Boston or the one who shot 1 for 11 in a 116-95 loss against the host Celtics Feb. 1. Embiid has the ability to take over the series, but how will his conditioning be, and can he stay healthy? In addition, the loss of Ben Simmons, especially on defense, appears too much to overcome. This could be a tougher than expected series, but the Sixers have more question marks than the Celtics.

The Sixers will draw a tough defensive assignment in trying to contain Celtics forward Jayson Tatum in the postseason.
Kim Klement / AP
The Sixers will draw a tough defensive assignment in trying to contain Celtics forward Jayson Tatum in the postseason.

David Murphy

Series prediction: Celtics win in 5 games.

Series MVP: Kemba Walker

Why the Celtics will advance: The Sixers’ best chance at making a run was always going to be on the defensive end. Now that they’ve lost their best on-ball defender, it’s hard to see how they’ll be able to keep both Walker and Jayson Tatum in front of them long enough to keep the series competitive. For the Sixers to have a chance, they’ll need Joel Embiid to have the best four-game stretch of his career, and they’ll need Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson to shoot much better from three-point range than they did during the regular season. Even without Simmons, the Sixers are far more talented than your usual sixth seed, and we’ve long believed that Embiid can become a player who single-handedly makes a team a favorite in most series. But the Sixers raw materials simply haven’t amounted to a team that can overcome the loss of Simmons.

Mike Sielski

Series prediction: Celtics win in 5 games.

Why the Celtics will advance: Maya Angelou said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” I can’t confirm that she was talking about the 2019-20 Sixers when she said that, but she might as well have been. Before the pandemic, after the pandemic, with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, without Joel Embiid and/or Ben Simmons, the Sixers keep showing us who they are. It’s not all that impressive. If you don’t believe them by now, you should.

Marcus Hayes

Series prediction: Sixers win in 6 games.

Series MVP: Al Horford

Why the Sixers will advance: Both Joel Embiid and Horford are selfless on offense and transformational on defense. Both have a perimeter game. Brett Brown can overlap or stagger their play. Horford will benefit if the Celtics double-team Embiid, which they will. Horford, who played in Boston the past three seasons, knows the Celtics’ tendencies and weaknesses. And, most significantly, Brown won’t have to contort his schemes to accommodate limited, ball-dominant guard/forward/goatherd Ben Simmons.