Clippers vs. 76ers NBA Odds & Picks: Take Philadelphia With Joel Embiid On the Floor (Friday, April 16)

Clippers vs. 76ers NBA Odds & Picks: Take Philadelphia With Joel Embiid On the Floor (Friday, April 16) article feature image
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Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Joel Embiid.

  • When the Clippers and 76ers face off on Friday night, it's a potential NBA Finals preview.
  • Philadelphia has been dominant this season with both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons on the court and present the Clippers a difficult matchup.
  • Brandon Anderson breaks down the game and why he sees an edge for the Sixers.

Editor’s Note: Kawhi Leonard will sit out with a sore foot. For the latest on injuries, check out Friday’s injury report here.

Clippers vs. 76ers Odds

Clippers Odds +2.5
76ers Odds -2.5
Moneyline +115 / -140
Over/Under 220.5
Time Friday, 7 p.m. ET
TV ESPN
Odds as of Thursday and via BetMGM

We’ve got a good one on tap Friday evening on ESPN as the Los Angeles Clippers head east to face the Philadelphia 76ers in a potential NBA Finals preview.

The Lakers and Nets are the favorites in their respective conferences, but these teams are as likely as anyone else to get there. This could be a little amuse bouche of a fun NBA Finals matchup to come.

These teams met a few weeks ago on March 27. The Clippers got 23 points from Terance Mann off the bench and coasted to an easy 10-point win. Of course, Joel Embiid didn’t play that game while the Clips had both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

The tables have turned in this one.

The Sixers finally look healthy. Embiid is back, and Philly just got its biggest win of the season Wednesday night over Brooklyn to take a clear lead at the top of the Eastern Conference. The Clippers may not be healthy though. Both George and Leonard sat out LA’s last game, and Leonard is questionable for this one.

Will Leonard play? And if he does, which team is better at full strength?

Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers are 39-18 entering Friday night’s game, having won seven straight games and 13 of 15, even as they seemingly sleepwalk through the second half of the season with one eye on the playoffs.

The Clippers have missed 12 games from Leonard and 15 from George this season. The supporting cast has come and gone too. Marcus Morris has missed 13 games. Serge Ibaka has been out 18 times. Patrick Beverley has played only 31 of 57 games. Ibaka and Beverley are out for the foreseeable future, and that entire crew sat Wednesday against the Pistons.

Of course, the Clippers won anyway, and per Basketball Reference, LA has the No. 3 Net Rating in the NBA along with the league’s best Offensive Efficiency even with all those absences all year. The Clippers lead the NBA in both 3-point and free throw percentage and have shot the lights out all season. Think about how impressive it is to hit all of those marks on season-long metrics even with all these guys missing so many games.

It looks like George and Morris should play after getting Wednesday off for rest. The big question mark is Leonard.

Leonard hasn’t played the last three games and is listed as questionable with a foot injury. The Clippers have played it extremely conservative with Leonard all season. With their stars, questionable sure feels a lot more like doubtful a lot of the time.

The Clippers are 4-2 straight up (SU) with George but no Leonard this season and 3-3 against the spread (ATS). It’s not much of a sample to glean much from. If both stars play, the Clips leap to 26-9 SU and an impressive 23-12 ATS. With both stars out there, they’re winning 74% of the time this season and covering 66% of the time by an average of 3.5 points, per Killer Sports.

With both Leonard and George, the Clippers have been outstanding this season. They’re a strong rebounding team and don’t turn it over, and that shooting has traveled this season.

Defensively, this may not play to LA’s strengths. The Clippers have been quite good at limiting 3-pointers but very average against shots inside the arc. That could be a poor matchup against one of the league’s best 2-point-shooting teams.

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Philadelphia 76ers

The Sixers sit at 38-17 now, atop the Eastern Conference after their big win Wednesday night over Brooklyn’s backups. Philadelphia is 14-5 since the All-Star Break and remember, the Sixers didn’t have Embiid for much of that stretch.

Well, they have Embiid now, and the Sixers have been outstanding this year with both him and Simmons on the court. Philadelphia is 26-6 SU with both franchise players out there, a 67-win pace over a normal season. The Sixers are 19-13 ATS in those games, covering 59% of the time by an average of 2.8 points per game, and they’re holding opponents under 45% from the field with a stingy defense.

The Sixers’ defense has been the best in the NBA this season aside from the Lakers, with or without Embiid. But the offense is far better with Embiid out there, typically around 13 points per 100 possessions better, per Pivot Analysis. Embiid would surely be neck and neck with Nikola Jokic in the MVP race, if not ahead of the Nuggets star, had he been healthy all year. He’s scoring nearly 30 points a game by dominating the paint, making 54% of over 15 2-point attempts per game and getting to the line 11.6 times per game.

Embiid is the most important player on the court for either team, and he’s the swing player in this game. As good as the Clippers are, they simply have no matchup for Embiid. Ivica Zubac is a nice enough role player, but he can only do so much, and remember, Ibaka is out for LA. Embiid’s presence on defense may not be so pivotal here since the Clippers don’t attack the rim a ton, but his presence on offense means everything for Philadelphia.

Do  keep an eye out on Tobias Harris in this one. Harris has been a bit banged up and might be due for a rest day, though you have to figure he will want to play against his old team. He and head coach Doc Rivers may have some revenge on the mind after how their times finished out in LA.

Clippers-76ers Pick

The game between these teams a few weeks ago means very little since Philadelphia is a completely different team without Embiid. However, these teams did play twice in the month before the pandemic break last spring, and they were both at relative full strength in one of them.

That game feels like our best read on this one, assuming we actually get a full strength matchup. Philadelphia won 110-103, dominating the glass and getting to the line frequently. Embiid was a force, getting to the line 13 times himself, while George had a really rough outing, shooting 3-of-15 from the field. LA’s bench had a strong effort, but the Sixers’ massive edge in rebounding and free throws was too much to overcome.

That’s Embiid in a nutshell, and he is a huge advantage in this one, one LA has no real counter to. Embiid should rack up rebounds and spend a lot of time at the line. He and Philadelphia should be able to score inside the arc against a beatable Clippers interior.

I would love to see a full-strength matchup but even if we get it, I like the Embiid advantage enough to prefer Philadelphia. All the better if Kawhi ends up sitting and the line moves in my favor. I’ll take Philly -2 before the line moves. As long as Embiid is playing, I like the Sixers in this spot.

Pick: Sixers -2.5

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