The Washington Wizards were expected to be one of the worst teams in basketball coming into the season. Those prognostications haven’t necessarily been proven wrong quite yet. The Wizards are just 6-13 through 19 games, which puts them 12th in the Eastern Conference. I feel comfortable assuming they won’t improve upon that position much as the season progresses.
However, one aspect of the Wizards season that few saw coming was this team’s offense. Washington currently has the fourth-best offensive rating in basketball, as they’re scoring an average of 110.3 points per 100 possessions. That puts them behind only Dallas, Milwaukee and Houston.
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia 76ers rank just 19th in the same category with an average of 104.9 points per 100 trips down the floor. The Sixers have been able to get off to a solid 15-6 start thanks in large part to their quality defense. Philly ranks fifth in defensive rating, allowing just 101.4 points per 100 possessions. And, given the talent on the 76ers’ roster, it would be a surprise if the offense didn’t come around before the end of the campaign.
The 2 teams are set to do battle on Thursday night in Washington DC. The 76ers opened as 5.5-point favorites at MyBookie, but the line has since been pushed to 76ers -7.5. The game also has an over/under of 234.5 points, which is the second-highest mark on the Thursday NBA schedule.
2019 ATS Home
2019 ATS Away
2019 O/U Home
2019 O/U Away
The Washington Wizards are riding a 3-game losing streak with their most recent defeat being a 127-120 loss against the Magic on Tuesday night. Washington fought hard in that game, but they were unable to overcome the rash of injuries that has suddenly hit them. In addition to John Wall and Ian Mahinmi, who have missed the entire season to this point, Washington was also without CJ Miles, Thomas Bryant and Moritz Wagner.
The absences of Bryant, Wagner and Mahinmi meant heavy minutes up front for Rui Hachimura and Davis Bertans. While both are solid players, it’s safe to say that neither of them is a center. Hachimura was forced to play 39 minutes in his first career game at the 5, while Bertans logged 40 while primarily playing power forward.
Bryant will miss tonight’s game, while Wagner and Mahinmi are listed as questionable. Missing your bigs against a frontline of Khem Birch and Mo Bamba is one thing. Missing your frontline against a team with Joel Embiid is another thing entirely. Even if Wagner is able to play, he’s still giving up 2-3 inches to Embiid along with about 40 pounds. Mahinmi would likely be on a strict minutes limit even if he is activated to play.
While the Wizards have one of the best offenses in the league so far, their defense has been abysmal. Washington ranks dead-last in defensive efficiency, as they’re allowing 114.3 points per 100 possessions. While Philly’s offense hasn’t played up to its caliber just yet, it’s hard to see how they don’t have their way with the undermanned Wizards frontcourt tonight.
Embiid’s Revenge Tour
Back on November 25, Joel Embiid was humiliated against the Toronto Raptors. Marc Gasol and co. held Embiid scoreless over 32 minutes in a 101-96 defeat. Embiid missed all 11 shots he took from the floor in the game, and all 3 of his free throws. It was the first time in his career that he has played in an NBA game without scoring a single point.
Since then, he has been a man on a mission. He scored at least 27 points in each of the 3 games following the loss in Toronto, and Philadelphia has since reeled off 4 consecutive wins. They got past the Jazz 193-94 on Monday night despite Rudy Gobert largely holding Embiid in check.
As mentioned, there’s almost no hope for the Wizards to slow him down tonight. Washington has almost zero rim protection on the current roster, which could also mean a big game for Ben Simmons. We know Simmons doesn’t do much damage offensively from outside the paint, so he should be able to breeze his way to the rim almost at will in this one.
Embiid will surely see plenty of double-teams, which means his teammates are going to have to be ready to knock down their open looks, of which they should see plenty. Embiid isn’t exactly a great passer when facing pressure, but the Sixers do have enough capable shooters to make the Wizards pay if they do send extra help to try and contain the Philly big man.
While I’d be surprised if the Wizards didn’t try everything possible to slow down Embiid, I’m still not sure it will be enough. This hasn’t been a disciplined defensive team all year long, and I doubt they’re going to start shutting teams down tonight. This is about the worst possible matchup Washington could face given their current injury situation up front.
The 76ers have too many weapons for the Wizards to contend with. As great as Bradley Beal is, I’m not convinced that he’ll be able to keep the Wizards afloat in this game all by himself. Simmons is one of the most versatile defenders in basketball, and his ability to switch on that end of the floor should prove key in slowing down Beal.
I like Philly in this spot. Most of the money coming in on the Sixers has already pushed the line up 2 points, but I still don’t think it’s enough; 7.5 isn’t enough for a game that could be this lopsided.
This game has legitimate blowout potential, so I would still be all over betting the Sixers to cover the spread.
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
The information found on Gamblingsites.org is for entertainment purposes only. It is a purely informational website that does not accept wagers of any kind. Although certain pages within Gamblingsites.org feature or promote other online websites where users are able to place wagers, we encourage all visitors to confirm the wagering and/or gambling regulations that are applicable in their local jurisdiction (as gambling laws may vary in different states, countries and provinces).
Gamblingsites.org uses affiliates links from some of the sportsbooks/casinos it promotes and reviews, and we may receive compensation from those particular sportsbooks/casinos in certain circumstances. Gamblingsites.org does not promote or endorse any form of wagering or gambling to users under the age of 18. If you believe you have a gambling problem, please visit BeGambleAware or GAMCARE for information and help.