How Simmons Injury Impacts 76ers Odds & NBA East Playoffs
Mark Strotman | 5 mins
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The Philadelphia 76ers and their talented roster look like they are going to come up short once again. Despite having title aspirations in a wide-open Eastern Conference when the 2020 season began, the NBA restart has gone from bad to worse for Brett Brown’s group, who will likely lose All-Star Ben Simmons for the remainder of the season as he undergoes a procedure on his left knee.
Oddsmakers wasted no time downgrading the 76ers in the latest NBA title odds, dropping them from +2200 prior to the Simmons news to +5000 following their loss to Portland on Sunday night. The +5000 is the same as the 34-win Nets in the East and the seventh-seeded Mavericks in the West, indicating that oddsmakers have no faith in a Simmons-less 76ers coming anywhere close to competing into October.
The 76ers loss means things got a whole lot easier for two Philly rivals: the Celtics and the Heat, which saw their NBA odds shorten — and for good reason. Let’s explore what it means for betting on the 76ers and the Eastern Conference playoffs going forward.
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76ers in Trouble Without Simmons
It’s not difficult to see why the 76ers are in trouble without Simmons, who averaged 16.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 8.0 assists in his third NBA season. Beyond his raw numbers, Simmons was one of the premier defenders in the league (averaging an NBA-best 2.1 steals per game) and, at 6-foot-10, one of the league’s more versatile players. He allowed the 76ers to play multiple ways, and his loss now limits the options Philadelphia will have to attack opponents.
Philadelphia was already facing an uphill battle prior to Simmons’ injury. The 76ers were an NBA-best 29-2 at home prior to the shutdown, but that homecourt advantage was nullified when the decision was made to complete the NBA season inside the bubble. It was even worse considering the 76ers were 10-24 away from Philadelphia prior to the shutdown.
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That’s the team they looked like early on in the restart, losing to the 76ers and barely squeaking by non-contenders in San Antonio, Washington and Orlando, winning those games by just a combined 18 points. Following Sunday’s loss to the Blazers — in which Joel Embiid injured his ankle — Philadelphia is now just 1-4 ATS in the bubble.
Don’t overthink this. The 76ers aren’t great value without Simmons. They’re exactly where they should be, and that’s on the outside looking in. Pass on Philadelphia’s odds without Simmons. The East is far too top-heavy and the 76ers aren’t deep enough to compete with the heavy hitters.
Heat, Celtics Become Better Bets
The 76ers may not have been a legitimate contender, but Simmons’ injury does make life easier for a few of the East’s best. And oddsmakers agree, as they shifted NBA playoff odds on the Celtics and the Heat.
The 76ers will almost certainly finish sixth in the East, and the Celtics have already locked up the No. 3 seed. Two weeks ago, Celtics bettors would be right to be squeamish. But a first-round matchup with Philadelphia looks a lot less daunting without Simmons, considering the 76ers won three of four matchups against the Celtics this season.
With that in mind — and Boston’s recent surge in the bubble — oddsmakers have shortened the Celtics’ title odds from +2000 to +1600. Those NBA futures may shorten further, so if you like Boston, you might want to jump on the Celtics soon.
Similarly, the Heat have seen some movement despite losing three of their last four and dealing with some injuries. Oddsmakers have shifted their title odds from +3000 to +2500 after the Simmons news. The Bucks (+250) and Raptors (+1000) remain the favorites in the East, but things just got easier for the Heat and Celtics.
Backing the Celtics at +550 or the Heat at +1200 to win the East at PointsBet still offers value as well.
76ers Still Offer Betting Opportunities
Just because the 76ers are no longer threats in the East doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities for savvy NBA bettors. If Philadelphia is going to have any chance of competing in the postseason, Embiid will have to do some serious heavy lifting.
That should mean some monster lines, and we got a taste of that when Simmons missed 10 games prior to the shutdown with a back injury. In those games, Embiid had games of 39 points and 16 rebounds, 49 points and 14 rebounds and 30 points and 14 rebounds.
Joel Embiid (49 PTS & 14 REB) couldn’t be stopped in Philly’s W! ? #CenterCourt pic.twitter.com/ih8xRCtcuz— NBA TV (@NBATV) February 25, 2020
Brown will push Embiid as much as possible. He’ll be a safe player prop over most nights. Despite his injuries, don’t forgot how dominant Embiid can be. In an even higher usage role, he could explode.
And don’t overlook the wing scoring of Josh Richardson and Tobias Harris. In that 10-game stretch that Simmons sat out, Harris averaged 21.7 points on 47% shooting, and Richardson had 34 points in Philly’s loss to the Blazers on Sunday. Both will play a significant role on offense and will be good bets on volume alone.