Joel Embiid Injury Update: Betting Odds Shift As 76ers Star’s Status is Upgraded vs. Heat in Game 3
Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images. Pictured: Joel Embiid
Speculation spread on Friday that Joel Embiid could return for the Philadelphia 76ers against the Miami Heat in Game 3, and the betting market reacted along with it.
The news took a few different turns on Friday. It started with Embiid remaining out despite clearing concussion protocols and participating in the morning shootaround.
Up to that point, the Heat had moved from the opening line of +1 to -3 at most sportsbooks. When news came that Embiid cleared protocol, Miami moved to a 1.5-point favorite.
Some notable wording in tweets from national reporters suggested Embiid’s status could change, prompting another odds movement to make Philadelphia the favorite at -1.
Roughly an hour after the first news was released, Embiid was upgraded from “out” to “doubtful,” forcing yet another odds adjustment.
As of Friday morning, the Heat are favorites once again at either -1 or -1.5 depending on the book. Real-time odds can be found here.
The Heat hold a 2-0 series advantage with neither game being in doubt. Miami won Game 1 by 14 points and Game 2 by 16 points.
Embiid has not played in this series after suffering facial fractures in the series clincher against the Toronto Raptors in the opening round.
If Embiid doesn’t return for Game 3, the hope will be he comes back for Game 4, which will take place Sunday.
Without Embiid, who was at the top of the MVP conversation all season, the Sixers have struggled on offense. Tyrese Maxey scored 34 points in Game 2 and Tobias Harris added 21, but James Harden has not picked up any slack. He scored 20 points on 6-of-15 shooting in Game 2 after contributing just 16 points in Game 1.
Matt Moore’s Analysis
If Embiid is ruled in, you can expect a move back towards pick ’em or Sixers -1. We wrote in our series preview that there may be no team outside of Boston better equipped to defend Embiid than Miami. A lesser Embiid coming off a painful and debilitating head injury, wearing a mask, with an already injured thumb?
There’s clear value on the Heat at wherever the market finishes at, whether Embiid plays or not. If he doesn’t play, it won’t be able to adjust much past -3. If he does play, there’s value on the Heat as a dog in a series they have shown significant answers for, even with the homecourt boost to Philly and their cadre of shooters.