76ers vs. Pelicans Odds & Picks: Philly Has Edge On Friday Night
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images. Pictured: Ben Simmons #25 of the Philadelphia 76ers; Lonzo Ball #2 of the New Orleans Pelicans.
- With injuries piling up for the Pelicans and the Sixers looking strong in the wake of Joel Embiid's return, Friday's matchup could get ugly.
- NBA betting analyst Kenny Ducey previews the game and makes his pick.
76ers vs. Pelicans Odds
|Moneyline||-255 / +200|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
|Odds as of Friday and via PointsBet|
The New Orleans Pelicans are limping toward the finish line, having lost several key players due to injury and a hefty bunch of games to boot.
As if things couldn’t get worse, the East’s No. 2 team, the Philadelphia 76ers, are lurking on Friday, ready to beat up on a team that’s down in the dumps and could be shorthanded once again.
With all that said, the spread for this one is still just -6, so is there a chance it’s not as easy as just fading New Orleans? Or, should the Sixers continue cruising now that Joel Embiid’s back? Let’s look at the numbers and see if we can find an answer.
The Sixers did surprisingly well after losing Embiid in the middle of March, rattling off seven wins in 10 tries, and since adding the big man back to the starting lineup not much has changed.
Philly has won both games with Embiid back, taking down the Timberwolves by nine and the Celtics by 10, with a loss mixed in on the second night of a back-to-back, where he sat out.
In fact, now that Embiid’s healthy, the Sixers are at full strength aside from George Hill, who is out indefinitely with a thumb injury but is probably just on this roster for the playoffs if we’re being honest.
The road is where bad things have happened for the Sixers. They’re just 12-12 against the spread away from home, losing two of their past four outright. It’s been a much different story in Philadelphia, where the team’s been a cover machine. That shouldn’t matter much, though, when you not only consider the lopsided matchup but also how well the Sixers have played with Embiid back.
Did you know that in the two games he’s played, they’re scoring a ridiculous 131.2 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor?
That’s an incredible number, and hardly a fluke either when you consider he’s added 13 points per 100 possessions on offense so far this season when he’s been on the court versus when he’s been off, according to NBA.com.
I thought, despite all the wins without Embiid, there were some valid concerns about this team’s ability to score with such poor performances on a nightly basis, but the reason the Sixers were able to sneak by plenty of teams was because of their defense, which ranks fifth in the league over the past 10 games with a 106.1 efficiency rating.
I still don’t buy that they can be anywhere close to a top-tier team without Embiid, but that doesn’t really matter when he’s playing, now does it?
New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans had real promise this season; Lonzo Ball was absolutely on fire from behind the arc, Brandon Ingram has grown into a star and Zion Williamson is energizing this team with great play inside. That’s all slowed to a halt with injuries popping up everywhere, and the Pelicans’ lack of commitment to defense.
We already know that exciting young guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker will be out a while with an ankle injury, and Josh Hart is joining him on the sideline with a thumb issue that’s going to keep him there indefinitely.
Ingram has missed five straight games with a sore right foot, and enters this one as questionable once again, and now all of the sudden Ball is on the injury report with a strained left hip flexor and might not be able to go on Friday.
It’s safe to say that if Ingram and Ball were both ruled out, this line probably wouldn’t be sitting at +6. I think there is some optimism out there that the pair will play, or at the very least one of them will. This offense would just be devastated to lose both, and the fact that New Orleans has continued to get torched defensively makes matters even worse.
The Pelicans still sit 28th in the NBA with a 115.7 Defensive Rating, one that’s stayed just about the same at 115.2 over the last 10 games. A bit more troubling than that is the Pelican’s rebounding rate, which has dropped from 52.9% to 52% over the last 10 games.
Though it’s hardly a huge drop-off, you don’t want to see this heading in the wrong direction if you’re New Orleans. Rebounding is just about the only thing the Pelicans do well, led by Steven Adams’ tenacious play inside. Losing Hart meant losing a great rebounder, however, so that could be something to watch over the next week or so as they continue on without him.
It’s always important to look at the battle on the glass in any Pelicans game, because if they don’t hold the edge there, they’re basically done.
New Orleans is still hanging on by a thread to an elite rebounding rate, but with Hart out, I’m not sold that they’ll keep dominating there, particularly against good rebounding teams. All the Sixers have done is rank third in the NBA with a 52.1% rebounding rate, and Embiid himself has added a 1.3% bump when he’s been on the floor.
I’m a big fan of Philly tonight simply because they have someone who can give Adams a game down low. Embiid should be able to find a way through on offense and compete for boards, which could turn the tables significantly in its favor.
The Pelicans’ defense has also been bad enough to the point where the Sixers should probably be able to keep scoring while Embiid’s on the bench which, in conjunction with a stout defense, should be more than enough to build a lead of 15 or more through three quarters.
I like this side even with Ball and Ingram in the lineup, so if you can get in on this now and the pair are ruled out, it’s going to be that much sweeter. The Sixers are competing for playoff seeding at this point, and the Pelicans’ hopes of reaching the postseason are pretty much dashed. I like the Sixers for a rare road cover.
Pick: 76ers -6 (play to 9 if Ball and/or Ingram don’t play)