By Adam Thompson | | 5 mins
Is There Value In Up-And-Down Sixers NBA Championship Odds?
The Philadelphia 76ers are 34-21 coming out of the NBA All-Star break. Sitting in the No. 5 spot in the Eastern Conference, a playoff berth appears a certainty. But it’s far below expectations for a team most expected to be at the top of the East and a legitimate NBA championship contender.
Perhaps they are, but the Sixers’ .618 win percentage puts them at 50-51 wins in the regular season, four wins below the Over/Under set by sportsbooks at the start of the year.
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Are the Sixers worth backing at that price in NBA betting? Can they catch, and overcome, the Bucks in the East, let alone whoever comes out of the West? Bookies.com senior handicapper Adam Thompson breaks down Philly’s chances to take home the championship trophy.
The Home Court
No team is better at home straight-up than the Sixers. They’re an astonishing 25-2 at Wells Fargo Center, the two defeats in back-to-back games in December to the Heat and Mavericks.
The problem is, the Sixers are 9-19 on the road, the worst road mark of any of the 16 teams currently in a playoff spot in the East or West.
When playoff time arrives, teams need to win on the road. That’s especially going to be true for Philadelphia if it ends up as the No. 5 seed.
Getting Hot Down The Stretch
As up-and-down as the 76ers’ season has been, they come into the post-All-Star break winners of three in a row, with an impressive home win over the Clippers their last time out.
No other contender has experienced the ebbs and flows of the Sixers. They’ve not only embarked on two five-game win streaks and three additional four-game win streaks, but two four-game losing streaks plus two separate three-game skids.
Consistent scoring has been an issue, especially on the road. So the Sixers added fresh blood at the trade deadline, acquiring guard Alex Burks, who averaged 16.5 ppg over his final 14 games with the Warriors, and Glenn Robinson III, who is having a career-best shooting season.
The deal adds offensive depth to a team that averages 6.4 fewer points per game on the road, and nearly six points less than last season. Offensive efficiency has been the issue — Joel Embiid shoots 4.2% worse on the road, Tobias Harris 3.3% worse, Al Horford 6.9% worse. Ben Simmons has actually been more efficient but with noticeably fewer attempts.
Mixed Bag vs. East Elite
The 76ers have found success against the Celtics, winning three of four against one of their top East rivals. But against the Bucks, Raptors, Heat and Pacers, they’re just 4-8 combined.
It gets worse. Since Jan. 1, their record against those five teams is 0-5, with four of those defeats by 10 or more points. All were on the road.
Of their 27 remaining games, just seven are against the other top-five teams in the East or one of the elite teams in the West (Lakers, Clippers, Rockets, Nuggets). Twenty are against everyone else.
There’s been stories about in-fighting and frustrations, and one can’t really be sure if they’re settled, or will be settled in time. On the court, Embiid expressed frustration at the offense and his role in it.
Watching the Sixers, it’s apparent there’s offensive dysfunction. Simmons is a push-the-ball point guard, Embiid a post talent, and power forward Al Horford, a key free-agent signing supposed to take pressure off Embiid down low, has instead morphed into a 3-point shooting specialist, making 32.7% of his attempts.
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The Sixers host the Nets on Thursday before a Saturday prime-time showdown on ABC at Milwaukee. It’s a huge litmus test for both teams.
Based on how terrific the 76ers have been at home and how rough it’s been on the road, which seed they end up with in the East is more important to them than any other squad.
On paper, Philadelphia has the look of a team that can put it all together for NBA Finals bettors and be there in the end. But it’s been a different story on the court. Road woes and lack of success against the other top teams in the East — not to mention the utter dominance of the front-running Bucks — give me too much pause to think they’ll cure all the woes.