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Nets vs. 76ers NBA Odds & Picks: Philly Should Feast if Joel Embiid Plays

Nets vs. 76ers NBA Odds & Picks: Philly Should Feast if Joel Embiid Plays article feature image

Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images. Pictured: Joel Embiid.

  • The Nets are reeling into Philadelphia, where they're play the top team in the East without Kevin Durant.
  • Joel Embiid is listed as questionable, but should be in line for a big game if he plays.
  • Read Austin Wang's preview below, including betting odds and predictions.

Nets vs. 76ers Odds

Nets Odds +1
76ers Odds -1
Moneyline -102 / -116
Over/Under N/A
Time 8 pm. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds as of Friday night and via FanDuel.

It is Super Bowl weekend, but two NBA Eastern Conference powerhouses will be demanding your attention on Saturday night. The Philadelphia 76ers host the Brooklyn Nets in what could be a glimpse of a potential conference finals matchup.

These two teams have already met once this season back on Jan. 7. The Nets, without their superstar trio of James Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, took down the 76ers 122-109 in Brooklyn.

In a bizarre sequence of events on Friday evening, Kevin Durant is being held out of Saturday’s game due to the league’s contract-tracing protocols. Also, Joel Embiid and Seth Curry are both listed as questionable. Their absences would make this marquee matchup lose much of it’s luster.

Just a few weeks ago, the 76ers were bidding against the Nets for the best package to offer the Houston Rockets to acquire former MVP James Harden.  Now, they get to see the prized guard in action against them. An interesting subplot is the reuniting of Harden, Mike D’Antoni and Daryl Morey, all of whom were Houston Rockets employees just a few months ago.

The line has opened up at -1. Let’s break down the game below.

Brooklyn Nets

The Nets are 14-10 and will be playing in the second night of back-to-back after losing to the Toronto Raptors on Friday evening. They are 1-3 against the spread in the second game of a back-to-back this season.  This does not bode well for the Nets, particularly without Durant.

They also don’t have a deep roster to replace his minutes and will be further relying on their stars to give them a significant chunk of minutes. The Nets have traded away a lot of their depth, and while Jeff Green has been able to give them some quality minutes, the cupboard is relatively bare.

In the 10 games since Harden joined the team, the Nets have a league-best Offensive Rating (121.0) and Effective Field Goal % (60.4%), per Advanced Stats. At this rate, they would easily bypass last season’s Dallas Mavericks as the best offense in history. Having multiple elite scorers who can create their own shot is such an incredible luxury, as evidenced by a solid fourth quarter in a win against the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night.

While their offense is undeniably the best in the NBA, their defense continues to be non-existent. They rank 28th in Defensive Rating (118.2) and have allowed their opponents to score a league-high 124.1 points per game since Harden has joined.

If Embiid plays, the Nets simply don’t have the weapons to combat him on defense. This squad gave up 41 pts to Bam Adebayo and 34 points to Nikola Vucevic this season.  Per Advanced Stats, the Nets give up the third-most points in the paint (51.2) and the most second-chance points (15.5), an area where a dominant big man like Embiid will exploit.

Philadelphia 76ers

The 76ers are coming into this game with the best record in the Eastern Conference at 16-7 and have won nine of their last 12 games.  Their last game was a disappointing loss against the Portland Trail Blazers, where they sat Ben Simmons on the second night of a back-to-back and Seth Curry called it a night early dealing with an illness. The 76ers punted this game and set their sights to this matchup, so I expect them to be well-rested and come out ready to play.

The 76ers are an amazing home team.  Dating back to the 2016-2017 season, they are 100-63-2 ATS (61%) at home, per Bet Labs.

They are 10-2 straight up and 8-4 ATS at home this season, but only 6-5 SU and 4-6-1 ATS on the road.

Furthermore, since the 2018-19 season, the 76ers as home favorites off a loss have gone 20-11 ATS (64.5%), per the Sports Data Query Language database.   A league-wide system I have observed  is that since the 2017-18 season, elite teams (60% or greater winning percentage) that are home favorites off rest vs. a team with no rest are 99-66 ATS (59.3%). This is in play with the 76ers.

Embiid is playing at an MVP-level this season. The 76ers’ offense has looked dangerous this season. Bringing in sharpshooter Curry and 3-and-D prototype Danny Green have really opened things up for the offense, spacing the floor and complementing Embiid in the post. The Nets don’t really have the personnel to guard him.  DeAndre Jordan is not the defender he once was and Green would get bullied around. The Nets rank 22nd in opponent’s free-throw rate, so I expect Embiid to spend a lot of time at the line. Embiid is listed as questionable for Saturday night. Monitor his status with our Bet Labs Insider tool.

While their offense has looked sharp, the biggest edge comes with their stifling defense. They may be one of the best teams equipped to contain the Nets. They are fourth in defensive rating (107.4) for the season, and have above-average defenders in Simmons, Green, Matisse Thybulle and Tobias Harris to counteract the Nets’ stars.

Finally, the 76ers have a deeper bench: Shake Milton and rookie Tyrese Maxey have provided a spark of scoring off the bench and have an advantage against the thin Nets bench. I anticipate the 76ers can keep the pressure on the Nets while their stars are getting a breather, but it is important not to allow the Nets’ stars get back into the game. Fortunately, they lead the league in average fourth-quarter margin (+3.4), per Team Rankings.

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Nets-76ers Pick

This will be an fun matchup to look forward to on the eve of Super Bowl Sunday.  While it is tough to bet against the Nets’ superstars, I think the Philadelphia 76ers are the right side assuming Embiid plays. They are better rested, possess a better bench, have a better defense and perform well at home. Embiid should have a monster game against Brooklyn’s lack of interior presence. Give me the Philadelphia 76ers to cover on Saturday night.

Pick: 76ers -1 (if Joel Embiid plays). Play up to -4 if he’s in.

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