Nets-Sixers Game 1 Betting Preview: Philly in Trouble with Embiid Doubtful?

Nets-Sixers Game 1 Betting Preview: Philly in Trouble with Embiid Doubtful? article feature image

Photo credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Joel Embiid

Game 1 Betting Odds: Brooklyn Nets at Philadelphia 76ers

  • Spread: 76ers -5.5
  • Over/Under: 230.5
  • Time: 2:30 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: ESPN

>> All odds as of 9:45 a.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and live win probabilities on your bets.

In the first game of the 2019 NBA Playoffs, the Philadelphia 76ers will likely have to go to battle without their MVP candidate, Joel Embiid. How does his absence affect today’s betting market? Our analysts dive in.

Injury News

Joel Embiid (knee) is doubtful. Jonah Bolden (knee) is questionable. James Ennis (quad) remains out. A note on Embiid from the FantasyLabs news feed:

Embiid was unable to practice Friday and said earlier that he had “no idea” of his playing status. He has been dealing with pain in his left knee since the All-Star game, a pain he said has been getting worse recently. It’ll ultimately be his call on whether or not he plays. His status will be based on how his body responds between Friday and game time.

Ben Simmons (+2.1) and Tobias Harris (+2.4) have sizable differentials in their DraftKings points per 36 minutes in games Embiid has missed this season. Bolden and Boban Marjanovic are the leading candidates to start at center if Embiid indeed sits out.

Betting Trend to Know

No. 3 seeds are 75-82-4 (47.8%) ATS in the first series of the playoffs since 2005. They have really struggled against division opponents, going 15-25-2 (37.5%) ATS. The 76ers went 1-3 ATS against their divisional rival Nets this year. — John Ewing

Notable Playoffs Betting System

The Nets are in the playoffs for the first time in three seasons. Some bettors may be hesitant to wager on Brooklyn as a road team without postseason experience, but our data shows home-court advantage and playoff experience are overrated. Since 2005, it has been profitable to bet on road teams that didn’t reach the postseason the year before in the first round. — John Ewing

Locky: Why I’m Betting the Nets in Game 1

Early openers for this Game 1 (with Embiid’s health still in doubt) were in the Sixers -8 range and quickly changed upon news of his doubtful status. Even at the shorter number now, and despite the fact I think Philadelphia has a lot of advantages in the series and is the more talented team, the fact is their guys just haven’t played a lot recently.

Embiid has missed about half of the final 25 games of the season, and Jimmy Butler and J.J. Redick have had back problems, as well, that have caused some absences. Since acquiring Tobias Harris to create their “dream” starting-five, those five players have played only 10 of a possible 28 games together.

Even if the Sixers can get through this, their continuity right off the bat is something I would question, especially against a team in Brooklyn that they struggled with in the regular season. With all the questions swirling, no cohesion among the Sixers yet and, most importantly, with Embiid’s health a question mark, the number is too high, and I would take Brooklyn in Game 1. I would not be surprised if they won outright, in fact. — Ken Barkley

Mears: The Importance of Embiid

It’s hard to overstate the importance of Embiid to this team. He’s a rightful MVP candidate: With him on the floor, the Sixers have been a stupid 14.4 points per 100 possessions better (97th percentile of all players). They’re 6.8/100 better on offense (93rd percentile) and 7.6/100 better defensively (95th percentile).

The overall numbers are pretty miserable. In 3,542 possessions minus Embiid, the 76ers have posted a -5.5 Net Rating. That number is equivalent to a bottom-five mark this season — in line with Atlanta, for example.

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Philadelphia 76ers small forward Jimmy Butler (23)

That said, the lineups without Embiid but plus the other starters have still been pretty good. The starters plus Bolden (who might not suit up either, mind you) have posted a +6.7 Net Rating. The issue is when any of those starters are off the court. Take J.J. Redick off the court (along with Embiid), and the 76ers have posted a -10.2 Net Rating. It gets ugly quick.

That data makes this game difficult to handicap. If this was a Game 7, perhaps head coach Brett Brown elects to play the starters 40-plus minutes. Maybe that happens today, but this is the first game of the playoffs; is he going to wear out those guys right away? I’m skeptical; our NBA models have them projected in the mid-30s.

If that’s the case, the value here is on Brooklyn to cover the spread. I got it at Nets +7 yesterday before it moved due to the news, but there’s still a point or so of value at +5.5. — Bryan Mears

Moore: My Thoughts on Today’s Game

Things I’m factoring here for Nets +5.5 (I got it at +7):

  • Brooklyn went 34-25 (58%) straight-up since December 1 compared to 35-23 (60%) for the Sixers.
  • Brett Brown was shaky as hell last year in the playoffs, struggling in matchup adjustments. He was bailed out in Round 1 by unsustainable shooting he is unlikely to get this year.
  • Brooklyn’s a high-variance team with the fifth-highest 3-point makes rate in the league.
  • Philly’s offensive floor is low and tied largely to Embiid.
  • D’Angelo Russell is the kind of guy who can swing a game even if he has a bad first three quarters.
  • No. 6 seeds are 14-12 ATS vs. single-digit spreads in Game 1 going back to 2003, and 56-50-3 overall vs. 3-seeds in single-digit spread games. — Matt Moore

Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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