76ers vs. Warriors NBA Odds & Picks: With Embiid and Curry Out, the Value is in the Total (Tuesday, March 23)

76ers vs. Warriors NBA Odds & Picks: With Embiid and Curry Out, the Value is in the Total (Tuesday, March 23) article feature image
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Elsa/Getty Images. Pictured: Matisse Thybulle.

  • Tonight's Sixers-Warriors matchup loses a bit of luster with Joel Embiid and Steph Curry ruled out.
  • Despite this, there's still a betting angle to be found in this nationally televised showdown.
  • Brandon Anderson previews the matchup and makes his pick below.

76ers vs. Warriors Odds

76ers Odds -3
Warriors Odds +3 
Moneyline -148 / +126
Over/Under 216.5
Time 10 p.m. ET
TV TNT
Odds as of Monday night and via FanDuel.

Well, bummer.

This should have been a really fun one on TNT after a full four days of March Madness; a chance to settle back into the NBA with two of the league’s elite players and MVP candidates.

Unfortunately, we won’t get to watch either Joel Embiid or Steph Curry in this one. Both are out with injuries, with Embiid out a while still and Curry day-to-day with a bruised tailbone and already ruled out.

It can be easy to just stay away from games like this with the stars sidelined, but is there a betting angle to play here anyway?

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Philadelphia 76ers

The 76ers are 30-13 now, still atop the Eastern Conference standings, even though Embiid has missed 12 games. And don’t forget, the Sixers have also been without Ben Simmons for eight games, and they had a bunch of COVID-19 protocols, too. It’s pretty impressive to still sit atop the East even after all that.

Philadelphia entered the week fifth in net rating at +5.3, per Basketball Reference. The Sixers have been one of the league’s best defensive teams and rank second in defensive efficiency. Again, it’s all the more impressive that Embiid and Simmons have combined to miss 20 games.

Philadelphia ranks near the top of the league in defensive effective field goal percentage. The Sixers are a strong rebounding team and rate near the top of the league in free-throw percentage. The Sixers take as many twos as just about anyone and still don’t shoot many threes, and they’re one of the best in the league defending twos.

None of that should come as any real surprise if you know Embiid’s game, but it’s also easy to throw most of that out the window with Embiid out, assuming he’s the reason for all of those strengths. And he is! He’s just not the only reason, and the team’s identity hasn’t changed much without him. Simmons has been very good in a bigger role but doesn’t exactly change the twos vs. threes dynamic on offense, and the defense has been really strong even without Embiid.

Actually, it’s the offense that suffers without Embiid. Per Pivot Analysis, Philadelphia’s offensive rating drops from 122.3 with Embiid on the court to 109.6 without him, a difference of 12.7 points per 100 possessions, and the defense is mostly unchanged. Philly has a bunch of other good defenders to fill in without Embiid, but the offense falls off a cliff. Philadelphia’s free-throw rate drops from 29 to 17%. Its 2-point percent falls from 56% — one of the best in the league — to 51%, one of the worst, and its 3-point percentage also drops from better than 40% to just 34%. Embiid’s gravity is real. There’s a reason he’s in every MVP conversation.

The Sixers started 0-4 without Embiid, but they seem to have figured things out since. They’ve won six of their last eight without their big man, including 6-2 against the spread over that stretch. Philly’s free-throw rate plummets without Embiid, but the Sixers hold their rebounding advantage and still defend well, and the team has closed really well late.

The Sixers certainly are not at their best without Embiid, but they’ve become surprisingly competent.

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Golden State Warriors

Unfortunately, you can’t say as much about the Warriors without Steph Curry.

Golden State is 22-21 on the season, but entered the week with a -0.2 net rating, just 19th in the league, per Basketball Reference. And while Curry has been awesome and carried this offense, the overall offense has still ranked bottom 10 in the league, while the defense ranks sixth in efficiency and has kept the Warriors above .500.

The Warriors bomb a ton of threes, but make them at an average rate, and they’re a pretty terrible rebounding team, even more so with the team so shorthanded in big men again while James Wiseman and Kevon Looney remain in health protocol. The Warriors foul way too much and get lucky that Embiid is out — as he probably lives at the line otherwise in this game — but the rebounding edge will still be significant.

The good news for Golden State is that the defense is even better without Curry and already good even with him. The Warriors rate just below Philly in defensive effective field goal percentage, and they lead the league in 2-point defense at 49.6%. That’s a really impressive number, and that’s Golden State’s key to hanging with the Sixers since Philly’s offense is built so heavily around 2-pointers.

The offense will be in big trouble without Curry, though. Per Pivot Analysis, the Warriors’ offensive rating drops from 116.4 with Curry on the court to just 103.6 with him off, a drop of 12.8 points per 100 possessions. Curry also has a +4.9 pace differential on the court. With Curry out, the Warriors get way worse on offense, so they slow things way down and hope their defense can grind things out and give them a chance to win.

It hasn’t been working. Golden State is 1-3 straight up and ATS without Curry, and that’s against the Suns, Hornets, and Grizzlies (twice), so not exactly a murderer’s row of competition. The offense has averaged just 104.2 points per game without Steph. Not great. It turns out substituting Jordan Poole in for Curry is a pretty big downgrade.

While the 76ers are still a competent team without their MVP candidate, the same cannot be said for the Warriors. They’ve struggled mightily without Steph. Don’t forget last season when Golden State finished with the worst record in the NBA without its star.


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76ers-Warriors Pick

A key difference here is how these teams play without their stars. Neither team is what it’s supposed to be — that much is clear. But while the Sixers fall off to an average team without Embiid, the Warriors fall is much more precipitous.

It makes sense to lean toward Philadelphia here with Curry out, especially with such a close line, but I think there’s an even better angle.

Remember how much worse both of these teams are offensively without their stars? We’re playing the under.

Golden State unders are 4-0 without Curry this season by an average of almost 10 points, and Philadelphia has gone under in its last four games without Embiid too — and two of those games went to overtime and still hit the under.

The books have adjusted some but not enough, and this is still very playable at 216.5. I’d consider parlaying an under with a Sixers cover, but you never know when Philly’s shots just won’t fall or when the 76ers eke out a win. I’ll stick with just the under and play to 214.5.

Pick: Under 216.5 (FanDuel)

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