Wizards vs. 76ers Odds & Picks: Target the Over/Under on Wednesday (Jan. 6)
Sarah Stier/Getty Images. Pictured: Russell Westbrook
- The red-hot 76ers go for a fifth straight when they host the Wizards.
- Washington has won two straight after dropping its first five to start the season thanks to a very subpar defense.
- Nicholas Alfano explains why he is targeting the total when looking for value in this matchup.
Wizards vs. 76ers Odds
|Wizards Odds||+6.5 [BET NOW]|
|76ers Odds||-6.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+230 / -270 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||231.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
In case anyone has been too busy watching the NFL regular season wrap up to get locked in on the NBA, let me be the first to tell you that the Philadelphia 76ers are atop the Eastern Conference and tearing teams apart.
Philadelphia hosts the Washington Wizards on Wednesday, looking to extend its winning streak to five games.
On the other side, Washington lost its first five games of the season. They Wizards have since settled in with their revamped roster and now ride a two-game win streak into Philly.
These teams already faced off on the second day of the season, and Philly needed a 40-point fourth quarter to come back and beat Washington, 113-107. While their season trajectories have differed since, I expect a similar pace and total in Wednesday’s matchup.
I can’t believe I’m doing this, but I’m here to tell you why Washington’s defense is not as bad as you think.
Giving up over 120 points per game is not something to be proud of, and the Wiz have only played two teams who have winning records at this moment. However, I attribute this high opponent scoring average to their Pace (106.21), which is the third-highest in the league, per NBA Advanced Stats.
Diving deeper, the Wizards are tied for second in Opponent Fast Break points (10.1) and rank 11th in Defensive Rebounding (75.6%), resulting in limited second-chance points. Additionally, they are tied for 14th in Opponent Points in the Paint (47.1), an important statistic when playing Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
Contrary to popular belief, this team hustles. Washington ranks 10th in loose balls recovered (6.9) and is tied for sixth in Box Outs (13.6).
More importantly, the Wizards actually contest shots. The Wizards rank fifth in Contested 2-pointers (37.7) and seventh in Contested Shots overall (59.6).
Washington is hungry to get another victory and will compete defensively against a Sixers team with an average offensive profile. More baskets will need to be earned than the total assumes, giving the under an edge.
Philly has not played tremendous competition either, but you can only play the teams on your schedule and no one can deny the Sixers’ dominance through seven games.
In my last preview, I covered Monday’s Hornets-Sixers game and detailed how elite Philadelphia is, and can be, on defense.
The 76ers proved me right in that contest, giving up only 68 points through three quarters before gifting the Hornets garbage-time baskets in the final frame. The Sixers still have the best Defensive Rating in the NBA by more than three points per 100 possessions and their roster has superior defensive skill from top to bottom.
The Sixers stack up particularly well against the Wizards due to their defense in the paint (non-restricted area). The Wizards take almost 18 shots per game in the paint (non-restricted area), seventh-highest in the NBA, but the Sixers force opponents to shoot a league worst 30.1% in this space.
The season is only two weeks old, but the Sixers are off and running and they are not being talked about on every sports-talk show for their wild dysfunction. Not only that, but Embiid and Simmons are healthy and playing well.
Who knows if the Sixers can sustain this level, but at the moment it seems that Philadelphia can stop any offense. Washington averages 118.6 points per game and the Sixers won’t let them sniff that total.
Washington’s top three scorers are Bradley Beal, Russell Westbrook and Thomas Bryant. Embiid will guard Bryant, and some combination of Simmons, Tobias Harris, Danny Green, Seth Curry and Shake Milton will check Washington’s prolific backcourt.
Of all NBA players averaging 20 or more minutes per game, Milton, Harris and Embiid rank third, fourth and fifth, respectively in individual Defensive Rating. Curry ranks 18th, Green 35th and Simmons 38th. That is insane. Philadelphia can start five guys in the top-40 in Defensive Rating and have another one come off the bench.
Basketball is a game of runs, and the pace will make for many quick point-spurts in this one. Yet, 231.5 is just too high in a game with the league’s best defense.
And don’t forget the beef between Westbrook and Embiid. The two of them will make this a chippy contest for all four quarters, a pleasure for under bettors.
Pick: Under 231.5, down to 230.