Mark Strotman for Bookies.com

By Mark Strotman | | 6 mins

NBA Odds & Predictions: Sixers' NBA Title Odds Tank After Latest Embiid Injury

NBA Odds & Predictions: Sixers' NBA Title Odds Tank After Latest Embiid Injury
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The landscape of the NBA postseason and NBA futures odds shifted considerably late Friday night when The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that Joel Embiid is out indefinitely with an orbital fracture and mild concussion sustained in the Sixers’ Game 6 win over the Toronto Raptors.

It’s obviously a monumental shift for the Sixers not to have their leading scorer and MVP candidate for their upcoming matchup (at least at the start) against the top-seeded Miami Heat—and oddsmakers agree: After the initial news broke, the Sixers’ odds to win their second round series tumbled on sports betting apps  from +135 to +300, and Philly’s title odds crumbled from +1500 to +3000 at DraftKings.

Since then, more encouraging news has emerged, with ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reporting Embiid could return as soon as Game 3 or Game 4. That news caused the Sixers title odds to bounce back a little (to +2500). Meanwhile, the Sixers are now +270 to advance past the Heat. 

NBA Odds: Sixers Lose MVP Candidate Embiid, Path To Title

Joel Embiid will likely finish as the MVP runner-up for a second consecutive season, but that should also tell you just how good he’s been. In 2022, Embiid averaged a league-best 30.6 points, 11.7 rebounds, and a career-high 4.2 assists per game. 

He was everything for the Sixers, with Philadelphia 7.3 points per 100 possessions better on offense with Embiid on the floor, and 4.3 points per 100 better with him on defense. That +11.6 mark was among the best in the NBA.

Odds Courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook as of May 2

Pre-Embiid Injury Title Odds +1500 at DraftKings
Post-Embiid Injury Title Odds  +2500 at DraftKings

Embiid has had more than his fair share of injuries over the years, so the Sixers know what life without him feels like. 2022 was no different. Embiid missed 14 regular-season games, with the Sixers going 6-8 in those contests. 

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Ironically enough, one of those victories was over the same Heat team they’ll face in Round of the postseason. What’s more, the Sixers went 4-8 without Embiid before James Harden arrived at the trade deadline. Since Harden arrived, Philadelphia was 2-0 without their leading scorer.

But the Sixers will need to make up for 30.6 points, 19.6 field goal attempts, and a massive 37.2% usage rate. It won’t be easy—and both Doc Rivers and Harden will need to step up.

James Harden Back In Leading Role

While there’s reportedly “hope” that Embiid can return at some point in the series, the Sixers can’t count on it. 

That means Harden, who was brought in to play a facilitating No. 2 role alongside Embiid, may need to return to his old roots of being a high-volume, lower-efficiency scorer. He hasn’t played that role since leaving Houston, but that’s the type of player he’ll need to be against Miami’s rock-solid defense.

Let’s not forget that Harden, 32, is just two years removed from averaging a league-high 34.3 points (the most in a single season since his own 36.1 points in 2019). He’s still an elite scorer who simply hasn’t had to do as much in stops with Brooklyn (sharing the rock with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant) and Philadelphia (sharing the rock with Embiid). 

But we should see a different version of Harden in this series. He almost has to average 30 points for Philadelphia to have a chance—a huge jump from the 21.0 points he averaged in 21 games with the Sixers in the regular season.

The Heat Are The Real Deal

This may not have been as big an issue in Round 1 against the Toronto Raptors, but losing Embiid against a true juggernaut in the Heat is a huge deal. Miami took care of a gentleman’s sweep against the Atlanta Hawks in Round 1, and future Hall of Famer Erik Spoelstra seems to be pulling all the right strings within the Heat Culture. 

They were the top seed in the East for a reason, Jimmy Butler is playing incredible basketball, and the supporting cast always seems to show up at the right time.

Let’s not forget they were favored to win the series (-135) even before Embiid’s injury was announced. 

Their East-leading 29-12 home record will make them a difficult out no matter who is on the floor. For what it’s worth, Miami’s title odds shifted up to +500 after the news. The winner of this series will face off against the winner of Bucks-Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.

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About the Author

Mark Strotman for Bookies.com
Mark Strotman
Mark is a veteran sports journalist who has covered the Bulls and the NBA since 2012. His work has appeared on ESPN.com, FoxSports.com, The Chicago Tribune and Yahoo Sports.