Tips On Betting The Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets
As the NBA season continues, bettors can begin to take advantage of more situational plays in an attempt to find value as the market further reacts to play thus far. One aspect of moving deeper into the season is we can start to identify scheduling and travel spots from which value may be derived. Let’s take a look at two Atlantic Division teams, where they find themselves this weekend, and what we might see going forward.
On the surface, it’s business as usual for this title contender. A 5-2 SU and 4-2-1 ATS record puts Philadelphia well on pace for another successful campaign and some degree of home-court advantage through the playoffs. That said, it’s been a bizarre start for Philadelphia. First, there was the two-game suspension of MVP-candidate Joel Embiid, during which the Sixers suffered their first loss, a five-point defeat to Phoenix. Philadelphia got Embiid back for the next game, away to Utah, and promptly lost Ben Simmons to a shoulder injury. He’s listed as day-to-day.
Friday’s game against Denver is not an ideal situational spot for Philly. The first long road trip of the year can be especially taxing, and it’s doubly so for a 76ers club that lacks any real depth. After losing Embiid, Head Coach Brett Brown was forced to ask more from the rest of his starters, and had pushed veteran Al Horford over 32 MPG. It was telling that even as Philadelphia lost Simmons early in the game, Brown limited Big Al to only 28 minutes. It is difficult not to worry that Philadelphia could be running on empty against the Nuggets on Friday, particularly if Simmons misses out. And, while playing the last game of a long and difficult trip is never easy, it’s especially hard to do it at altitude in the Mile High City.
Without Simmons, one player who will likely continue to see an uptick in minutes is guard Furkan Korkmaz. While he has had some success scoring the ball, including 20 points in the loss to Phoenix, Philadelphia has struggled with him on the floor. The 76ers, with Korkmaz on the floor, have an offensive rating a full 7.1 points lower than the team’s offensive rating with him on the bench. Defensively, he is a liability as well. Philadelphia’s opponent’s offensive rating improves from 100.0 to 108.1 when Korkmaz plays. He is facing a tough matchup in a Denver team with the likes of slashing guard Jamal Murray and a bevy of quality wings who will cause him problems. The possibility of him playing upwards of 25-30 minutes does not bode well. Philadelphia would have serious depth issues in any circumstance against a Nuggets team that comfortably runs 10 or 11 deep, but the combination of scheduling and the questionable health of a superstar, make this a particularly difficult prospect for Philadelphia.
Lastly, Philadelphia is unlikely to be able to count on a lack of focus from Denver. While chemistry issues have hurt the Nuggets out of the gates, the team seems to be getting its groove back. Denver will have the benefit of two full days off, after a 20-point trouncing of the previously hot Miami Heat, a game in which star C Nikola Jokic only had to play 22 minutes. With the Western Conference so loaded, especially if a place like Phoenix remains a hard one to visit, bettors would be wise to look for spots like this anytime Eastern Conference contenders make for the coast.
Here’s an Atlantic Division team in just that situation. While Philadelphia will be happy to get home to play Charlotte on Sunday evening, Brooklyn is just starting out on its first long road trip of the season. Five straight games away from Barclays Center, including the identical run of games Philadelphia just went on (Portland, Phoenix, Utah, Denver). It’s hard to imagine the Nets getting better results. After all, The Nets were unable to take advantage of a relatively soft schedule to open the year. Brooklyn went 3-4 SU, despite playing five games on their home floor and facing seven opponents that are a combined 17-28.
Starting on Friday, things promise to get more difficult. The Nets have traveled across the entire country to open up a five-game road trip that will include multiple time zone changes. They open against a Blazers team that should be very motivated, having lost its only two home games on the year, after going 32-9 SU at home last year. Tough spot for the Nets.
While the Nets have managed three wins, and Brooklyn’s games have featured the fun-to-watch heroics of Kyrie Irving, some of the underlying numbers are not good. On defense in particular, the Nets have been bad, but could get even worse. Brooklyn’s defensive rating of 108.6 ranks 20th in the NBA. That’s despite the fact that four of Brooklyn’s opening seven games have come against teams with below-league-average offensive ratings, including the woeful Knicks and Grizzlies. In the two games in which they faced higher-quality offenses New Orleans and Houston, the Nets gave up an average of 120.5 PPG, with both games happening on Brooklyn’s home floor. Now, they travel to Portland to face a team that, while struggling a bit to start the year, still possesses on offensive rating of 109.3, and recently put up 128 points at home to defensive stalwart Philadelphia. DeAndre Jordan is questionable (ankle), and this too could impact an already weak Nets defense.
The expectations from last season’s solid campaign, and the flash of Kyrie Irving, may lead the public to remain confident in the Nets. As they embark on their first truly difficult stretch of the year, at a minimum, bettors should be very cautious about trusting Brooklyn. There’s every chance they haven’t found bottom quite yet.