NBA Odds, Game 1 Preview, Prediction for Wizards vs. 76ers: How to Back Philly as Heavy Favorite (May 23)
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Joel Embiid.
- The top-seeded 76ers open their playoff journey against the high-scoring Wizards on Sunday afternoon.
- Washington lost to Boston in the play-in tournament before securing a spot by beating the Pacers. Philly is a different kind of challenge, though.
- Kenny Ducey breaks down where he sees betting value in Game 1 in Philadelphia.
|Moneyline||+245 / -305|
|Time||1 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of 8 p.m. ET Saturday and via DraftKings|
The Nets have garnered all the fanfare coming into the postseason as the favorites to make it out of the East, but the top team in the conference will begin its quest towards the NBA Finals on Sunday.
The Philadelphia 76ers start their playoff series on Sunday against the Wizards. The Sixers have been dynamite at home, and down low, and they should be well-equipped to handle Washington with ease here.
But is there still value in laying 7.5 points? Let’s take a look at the numbers and find the answer.
Washington Squeaked Past Boston, so What About Philly?
The Wizards have had to fight tooth and nail to even get to this position, falling to the Celtics 118-100 in the first play-in game before putting up 142 in a blowout win over the Pacers. The former represented a real test for Washington’s offense, while the latter was simply a beatdown of a tired, depleted and lackluster Indiana defense.
The blowout win for the Wizards gave them a cover on the 3.5-point spread, the fourth time they’ve covered in eight games. During that span, they’ve had the 10th-best offense in the league and run at the fastest pace in the NBA. Lots of possessions and lots of points have been commonplace this year for the Wizards, though they’ve lacked two key factors that rear their head come playoff time: defense and rebounding.
Washington’s high-powered offense was suffocated by an above-average Celtics defense in the play-in tournament, and Boston’s sixth-ranked rebounding unit dominated Washington’s, which ranked 19th in the NBA this season. Daniel Gafford once again gave this team solid minutes in the win over Indiana with a double-double and five blocks, but he only played 22 minutes once again. Scott Brooks would be wise to get Gafford out there for big minutes against Philly, but the big man averaged just 17.7 minutes over the last 10 games of the regular season.
Can Anyone Stop Philadelphia’s Frontcourt?
It’s so important to talk about frontcourts when you’re breaking down a game involving the Sixers, considering they’ve got the strongest post presence in the league with Joel Embiid.
To give you a feel for his season, Embiid averaged 12.3 post-ups per game, scoring 1.5 points per play, both of which rank atop the league. His 10.6 rebounds per game were 10th and 28.5 points fourth. The guy was an absolute machine down low.
You probably know that Embiid is good, but it’s important to highlight him here because the Sixers play offense almost exclusively through him and in the lane. Philly ranked 26th in the NBA this season with 30.1 three-point attempts per game, but it had an efficient offense at 112.6 points per 100 possessions.
The 76ers will wear you down with high-percentage looks, and it’s an even tougher task to defend them when you realize they’re eighth in rebounding rate.
Perhaps the biggest thing going here for the Sixers is their home-court advantage, which they’ve earned throughout the playoffs with the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Philadelphia was 29-7 straight-up at home this year and 22-13-1 against the spread, checking in as one of the best teams in the league at defending their home floor.
This should be a repeat of last week’s play-in game against the Celtics when the Wizards were run off the floor by a strong defense and rebounding unit. If the Celtics give you fits there, then the Sixers and Embiid certainly will.
Washington simply doesn’t have the size to hang with the 76ers. Without Bradley Beal at 100%, the Wizards are going to struggle to match this efficient Sixers offense. Ben Simmons will put the clamps on Russell Westbrook, just as he’s done to every star guard in the NBA, and the head of this offense will be removed.
There’s no doubt to me the Sixers will dominate, and the fact that they’re playing at home, where they’ve been beastly against the spread, just gives me more confidence.
I may hang out and wait to see if the public hits Westbrook and the Wizards given the amount of underdogs making noise this weekend. I’d love to get this at seven points, or even 6.5, but I’d absolutely sign up for 7.5.
Pick: Sixers -7.5 (-110)