NBA Odds & Picks for 76ers vs. Suns: Expect Phoenix to Cover in Enticing Matchup
Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Devin Booker #1 and Chris Paul #3 of Phoenix Suns.
76ers vs. Suns Odds
|Moneyline||-115 / -105|
|Time||3 p.m. ET|
We’ve got a fun one Saturday afternoon as the Philadelphia 76ers head to Phoenix for an early tip against the resurgent Suns.
The Sixers still sit atop the Eastern Conference at 18-8, but the Suns have surged to fourth in the West at 15-9. The Suns have won seven of their past eight games and finally look right again after a rough January. This is the fifth of a seven-game home stand for the Suns that’s gone perfectly thus far.
Both Philadelphia and Phoenix may be a bit better than the records indicate because each team has missed key players, but starters are healthy on both sides. So which team has more value in the matchup?
These teams are reflections of one another in some ways. Both are dominant on defense but still finding their way on offense, and both play a less-than-modern attack when they do have the ball.
Philadelphia’s defense has been stifling. The 76ers are getting some 3-point percentage luck right now but are dominant inside the arc with elite 2-point percentage defense. The Sixers use all their length and defensive playmaking to create big plays, racking up steals and blocks that turn into easy points on the other end of the court.
With the ball, the Sixers are much less convincing, and their profile overall looks a lot like Joel Embiid’s. Philadelphia still ranks near the bottom of the NBA in 3-pointers attempted and made, but they’re good at scoring inside the arc and get to the free throw line a ton.
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If that sounds like Embiid, that’s because Doc Rivers has built this team to amplify the big man’s strengths, and it’s working. Embiid is in the thick of the MVP race at 29.4 points on an efficient 66.7% True Shooting Percentage, and he’s leading the league in PER, according to Basketball Reference, and none of that even really accounts for his elite defense.
Embiid hasn’t matched up with Deandre Ayton since Ayton’s rookie season, and the youngster has come a long way defensively since then, so that should be an interesting matchup. If Embiid can’t get rolling against Ayton, it could be tough for Philadelphia to score consistently against this good defense.
The Sixers will also be missing Shake Milton, a key sixth man, from an already weak bench. That could give the Suns a real bench advantage.
Like the Sixers, Phoenix has been shining on defense much more than the other end of the court.
The Suns are playing intelligent defense, with a terrific defensive shot profile that pushes opponents to take inefficient shots from inefficient shooters. It will be interesting to see how effective that is against Philadelphia, a team that already plays a more outdated style of attack.
The Suns have not been particularly efficient themselves. Phoenix barely gets to the free throw line but makes it count when it does get there. The Suns don’t force many turnovers either, and that means this team isn’t getting many easy points. But Phoenix also doesn’t turn it over much, a Chris Paul staple, so that should limit some of those easy points the Sixers tend to feast on.
The Suns swooned for most of January, but the team was shorthanded most of the month. They’re still missing Cameron Payne, who spearheaded a terrific bench mob early, but the rest of the roster is finally whole now and it’s showing in how well the Suns are playing.
Phoenix has only lost by more than five points three times all season, so the Suns are hanging in every game consistently. They’re still trying to figure out the right combination of starters, but I do think the Phoenix bench could have a real advantage here against Philly.
Until Philadelphia lost to Portland on Thursday night, the 76ers’ new starting lineup with Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Danny Green, Tobias Harris and Embiid had been a perfect 14-0. They’re 14-1 now but still have a sparkling net rating and have dominated in most of their games.
There’s a hidden edge that could weigh heavily in Phoenix’s favor here, though. Remember how the Suns are in the midst of a long home stand? That’s not true of the Sixers, who have traveled almost 9,000 miles on this West Coast road trip through Sacramento and Portland.
Philadelphia looked a little tired down the stretch against an undermanned Blazers team, and Portland also beasted them on the boards down the stretch. The Sixers are a relatively average rebounding team despite all that size, so that’s another area Phoenix could have a surprising advantage.
Phoenix is 8-4 against the spread at home this season, so I do think the location of this game could be key here. Remember how the Suns have won seven of eight games during this recent hot stretch? They’ve covered in every one of those wins too.
These early afternoon games can be a little weird, so it’s hard to get a good handle on this one, but I’m leaning on that home Phoenix advantage and playing the Suns to cover. Phoenix is finally getting right again and I like the matchup here. Let’s hope this game ends up as good as it looks like it could be.
Pick: Suns +1.5