The 2020-21 NBA season is still very young, but the Philadelphia 76ers certainly look like a force to be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference. Philly has been among the betting favorites to win the conference in recent years, but the core of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons has never even advanced past the second round of the playoffs.
The Sixers made some changes in the offseason, and those decisions already seem to be paying off. Doc Rivers and Daryl Morey were hired to coach and build the roster, and Morey quickly shuffled some of the talent surrounding Embiid and Simmons over the offseason. Through the first eight games of the new campaign, the Sixers are 7-1 after a 141-136 win over the Wizards last night.
The 76ers will play the second half of a back-to-back tonight in Brooklyn. The Nets are playing without Kevin Durant for the next few games due to health protocols, but Brooklyn had no issues whatsoever against Utah with Durant sidelined on Tuesday night. Led by 29 points in just 30 minutes from Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn cruised to a 130-96 win over the Jazz earlier this week.
The victor snapped a two-game losing skid for the Nets, which pulled their record to 4-4 on the year. Brooklyn is currently listed as a one-point home underdog tonight at BetOnline.ag in a game with a 226 over/under.
All Morey had to do in order to improve Philly’s roster around Embiid and Simmons was add some shooting. So, the Sixers sent the oversized and dreadful contract of Al Horford to Oklahoma City in exchange for Danny Green. Shortly thereafter, Philly traded Josh Richardson to the Mavericks for Seth Curry. The team got rid of a couple of mediocre shooters and questionable fits and instantly made the starting unit around their two All-Stars more palatable.
So far, the moves have looked brilliant. Curry has been particularly stellar, averaging about 14 points per game while shooting a blistering 45 percent from long range. Seth was one of the driving forces in Wednesday’s win over Washington, finishing with 28 points, 5 rebounds, and three assists. Curry hit six of his seven attempts from long range, five of which came in the first quarter.
Embiid played like an MVP in leading the Sixers to the victory. The big man piled up 38 points, eight rebounds, five assists, three blocks, and three steals in 38 minutes of action in the high-scoring affair as the Wizards had absolutely no answer for him on either end of the floor.
Philadelphia has also gotten excellent early-season production out of Tobias Harris, while Shake Milton, Tyrese Maxey, and Dwight Howard have proven to be useful contributors off the bench. The Sixers are just 27th in offensive rating so far this season, but that should come up as the year proceeds. Philly is impressively third in defensive rating, allowing a suffocating 98 points per 100 possessions thus far. This despite allowing 136 points to the Wizards last night.
No KD, No Problem
The Nets were listed as home underdogs on Tuesday night with the Jazz in town, but the game quickly turned into a rout in the other direction. The Nets jumped out to a 35-14 lead after the first quarter and never looked back.
With Durant still out, Irving is going to have to shoulder a heavy offensive load. He was more than up to the task the other night, as he canned 12 of his 19 shots while also chiming in with six rebounds, five assists, and three steals in limited action.
The absence of Durant caused Steve Nash to shuffle his entire lineup around Irving. The Nets started Jarrett Allen, Jeff Green, Bruce Brown, and Taurean Prince next to Kyrie the other night, with Joe Harris, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, DeAndre Jordan, and Caris LeVert operating off the bench.
Clearly, it was a smart decision. Allen had a monster night, finishing with 19 points and 18 rebounds in 32 minutes. LeVert thrived off the bench, posting 24 points to go along with five assists in 21 minutes.
Brooklyn actually leads the NBA in defensive efficiency so far this season, which feels a bit flukey. The Nets’ schedule to this point has featured a grand total of two teams that made the playoffs last season, so they’re likely a bit worse defensively than the early-season numbers may indicate.
What’s the Best Bet?
The Sixers playing the second night of a back-to-back is likely the reason they’re only favored by one point tonight. If both teams came into this game on regular rest, the line may look more like Sixers -4 or -5. As a result, you’re getting some pretty solid value here with Philly being listed at -1 over at BetOnline.
Do they know something we don’t?
It’s possible. Both Embiid and Simmons have dealt with plenty of injuries in the past, so it’s not impossible to think that the Sixers could decide to sit one of them out tonight. Resting stars on a national TV game comes with a $100,000 fine this year, though, which is why I’m expecting both of their All-Stars to suit up for this one.
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 ...
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